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A fastor's HEART ...«••. 59 





chest's CAPTIVE • • *4 




THE TWO COVENANTS. ...... 112 






THE CHRISTIAN HOPE. . . . , . . 173 


THE HEW WORLD •...#.. tg8 









WAR .......... 189 


GODLY JEALOUSY ....... 31a 



FOOLISH BOASTING ....... 3 2 5 


NOT YOURS, BUT YOU ...»•• 359 



INTRODUCTION, in the scientific sense, is not 
part of the expositor's task ; but it is convenient, 
especially when introduction and exposition have im- 
portant bearings on each other, that the expositor 
should indicate his opinion on the questions common 
to both departments. This is the purpose of the state- 
ment which follows. 

(i) The starting-point for every inquiry into the 
relations between St. Paul and the Corinthians, so far 
as they concern us here, is to be found in the close 
connexion between the two Epistles to the Corinthians 
which we possess. This close connexion is not a 
hypothesis, of greater or less probability, like so much 
that figures in Introductions to the Second Epistle ' r 
it is a large and solid fact, which is worth more fof 
our guidance than the most ingenious conjecture 
combination. Stress has been justly laid on this b} 
Holtzmann, 1 who illustrates the general fact by details 
Thus 2 Cor. i. 8-IO, ii. 12, 13, attach themselves im* 
mediately to the situation described in 1 Cor. xvi. 8, 9. 
Similarly in 2 Cor. i. 12 there seems to be a distinct 
echo of I Cor. ii. 4-14. More important is the un- 
questionable reference in 2 Cor. i. 13-17, 23, to I Cor. 
xvi. 5. From a comparison of these two passages it 

1 EinUitung, 2nd ed., p. 255 f. 


is plain that before Paul wrote either he had had an 
intention, of which the Corinthians were aware, to visit 
Corinth in a certain way. He was to leave Ephesus, 
sail straight across the sea to Corinth, go from Corinth 
to Macedonia, and then return, via Corinth, to Asia 
again. In other words, on this tour he was to visit 
Corinth twice. In the last chapter of the First Epistle, 
he announces a change of plan : he is not going to 
Corinth direct, but via Macedonia, and the Corinthians 
are only to see him once. He does not say, in the 
First Epistle, why he has changed his plan, but the 
announcement caused great dissatisfaction in Corinth. 
Some said he was a fickle creature ; some said he was 
afraid to show face. This is the situation to which the 
Second Epistle directly addresses itself; the very first 
thing Paul does in it is to explain and justify the 
change of plan announced in the First. It was not 
fickleness, he says, nor cowardice, that made him 
change his mind, but the desire to spare the Corinth- 
ians and himself the pain which a visit paid at the 
moment would certainly inflict. The close connexion 
between our two Epistles, which on this point is un- 
questionable, may be further illustrated. Thus, not to 
point to general resemblances in feeling or temper, the 
correspondence is at least suggestive between 071/0? iv 
rS> Trpdr/fjuiTi, 2 Cor. vii. 1 1 (cf. the use of irpayfia in 
I Thess. iv. 6), and roiavrij iropvda in I Cor. v. 1 ; 
between iv trpoaim^ Xpta-rov, 2 Cor. ii. 10, and iv t£ 
•vo/iaTt tou K. rip.S>i> 'I. X., I Cor. v. 4 ; between the 
mention of Satan in 2 Cor. ii. 1 1 and 1 Cor. v. 5 ; 
between irevdelv in 2 Cor. xii. 21 and 1 Cor. v. 2 ; 
between toioOto? and rt? in 2 Cor. ii. 6 1., 2 Cor. ii. 5, 
and the same words in I Cor. v. 5 and I Cor. v. 1. If 
sll these are carefully examined and compared, I think 


it becomes extremely difficult to believe that in 2 Cor. 
ii. 5 flf. and in 2 Cor. vii. 8 ff. the Apostle is dealing with 
anything else than the case of the sinner treated in 
I Cor. v. The coincidences in detail would be very 
striking under any circumstances ; but in combination 
with the fact that the two Epistles, as has just beea 
shown by the explanation of the change of purpose 
about the journey, are in the closest connexion with 
each other, they seem to me to come as nearly as 
possible to demonstration. 

(2) If this view is accepted, it is natural and justifi- 
able to explain the Second Epistle as far as possible out 
of the First. Thus the letter to which St. Paul refers 
in 2 Cor. ii. 4 and in 2 Cor. vii. 8, 1 2, will be our First 
Epistle to the Corinthians; the persons referred to in 
* Cor. vii. 12 as " he who did the wrong " and " he to 
whom the wrong was done " will be the son and the 
father in I Cor. v. 1. There are, indeed, many who 
think that it is absurd to speak of the First Epistle to 
the Corinthians as written " out of much affliction and 
anguish of heart and with many tears " ; and who 
cannot imagine that Paul would speak of a great sin 
and crime, like that of the incestuous person, in such 
language as he employs in 2 Cor. ii. 5 ff. and 2 Cor. 
vii. 12. Such language, they argue, suits far better 
the case of a personal injury, an insult or outrage of 
which Paul — either in person or in one of his deputies 
— had been the victim at Corinth. Hence they argue 
for an intermediate visit of a very painful character, 
and for an intermediate letter, now lost, dealing with 
this painful incident. Paul, we are to suppose, visited 
Corinth on the business of 1 Cor. v. (among other 
things), and there suffered a great humiliation. He 
was defied by the guilty man and his friends, and had 


to leave the Church without effecting anything. Then 
he wrote the extremely severe letter to which ii. 4 
refers — a letter which was carried by Titus, and which 
produced the change on which he congratulates him- 
self in il 5 ff. and vii. 8 ff. It is obvious that this whole 
combination is hypothetical ; and hence, though many 
have been attracted by it, it appears with an infinite 
variety of detail. It is obvious also that the grounds 
on which it rests are subjective; it is a question on 
which men will differ to the end of time, whether the 
language in 2 Cor. ii. 4 is an apt description of the mood 
in which Paul wrote (at least certain parts of) the First 
Epistle to the Corinthians, or whether the language in 
2 Cor. ii. 5 ff., vii. 8 ff. is becoming language in which 
to close proceedings like those opened in 1 Cor. v. If 
many have believed that it is not, many, on the other 
hand, have no difficulty in believing that it is ; and 
those who take the negative not only fail to explain 
the series of verbal correspondences detailed above, 
but dissolve the connexion between our two Epistles 
altogether. Thus Godet allows more than a year, 
crowded with events, to come between them. In view 
of the palpable fact with which we started, I cannot 
but think this quite incredible : it is far easier to 
suppose that the proceedings about the incestuous 
person took a complexion which made Paul's language 
in the second and seventh chapters natural than to 
come to any confident conviction about this hypothetical 
visit and letter. 

(3) But the visit, it may be said, at all events, is not 
hypothetical. It is distinctly alluded to in 2 Cor. ii. \ 
xii. 14, xiii. I. These passages are discussed in the 
exposition. The two last are certainly not decisive- 
there are good scholars who hold the same opinion of 


the first. Heinrici, for instance, maintains that Paul 
had only been once in Corinth when he wrote the 
Second Epistle ; it was the third time he was starting, 
but once his intention had been frustrated or deferred, 
so that when he reached Corinth it would only be his 
second visit. A case can be stated for this, but in view 
of chap. ii. I and chap. xiii. 2, I do not see that it cat) 
be easily maintained. These passages practically com- 
pel us to assume that Paul had already visited Corinth 
& second time, and had had very painful experiences 
there. But the close connexion of our Epistles equally 
compels us to assume that this second visit belongs to 
an earlier date than our first canonical Epistle. We 
know nothing of it except that it was not pleasant, and 
that Paul was very willing to save both himself and the 
Corinthians the repetition of such an experience. It is 
nothing against this view that the visit in question is 
not referred to in Acts or in the first letter. Hardly 
anything in chap. xi. 24ff. is known to us from Acts, and 
probably we should never have known of this journey 
unless in explaining the change of purpose which the 
first letter announced it had occurred to Paul to say : 
" I did not wish to come when it could only vex you ; 
I had enough of that before." 

(4) As for the letter, which is supposed to be referred 
to in 2 Cor. ii. 4, it also has been relieved of its 
hypothetical character by being identified with chaps. 
x. I — xiii. 10 of our present Second Epistle. In the 
absence of the faintest external indication that the 
Epistle ever existed in any other than its present form, 
it is perhaps superfluous to treat this seriously; but 
the comment of Godet seems to me sufficiently to 
dispose of it The hypothetical letter in question — in 
which Godet himself believes — must have had two 


main objects : first, to accredit Titus, who is assumed 
to have carried it, as the representative of Paul ; and, 
second, to insist on reparation for the assumed personal 
outrage of which Paul had been the victim on his 
recent visit. This second object, at all events, is in- 
disputable. But chaps, x. I — xiii. 10 have no reference 
whatever to either of these things, and are wholly 
taken up with what the Apostle means to do, when he 
comes to Corinth the third time; they refer not to 
this (imaginary) insolent person, but to the misbeliev- 
ing and the immoral in general. 

(5) Except in the points specified, the interpretation 
of the Epistle is little affected by the questions raised 
in Introduction. Even in the points specified it is the 
historical reference, not the ethical import, which is 
affected. Whichever view we take of them, we get 
on the whole substantially the same impression of the 
spirit of Christ as it lives and works in the soul of the 
Apostle. It is part of the man's greatness, it is the 
seal of his inspiration, that in his hands the temporal 
becomes eternal, the incidental loses its purely in- 
cidental character, and has significance for all time. 
It is the expositor's task to deal with the spiritual 
rather than the historical side, and it will be sufficient 
here to indicate in outline what I conceive the series of 
Paul's relations with the Corinthians to have been. 

(6) His first visit to Corinth was that which is 
recorded in Acts xviii. ; according to the statement of 
ver. II it extended over a period of eighteen months. 
In all probability he had many communications with 
the Church, through deputies whom he commissioned, 
in the years during which he was absent ; the form of 
the question in 2 Cor. xii. 17 (jirj nva 5>v airiarakKa 
irpbs vfjuat k.t.X.) implies as much. But it is only after 


his coming to Ephesus, in the course of his third 
missionary journey, that personal intercourse with 
Corinth can have been resumed. To this period I 
should refer the visit which we are bound to assume 
on the ground of 2 Cor. ii. I, xiii. 2. What the occa- 
sion was, or what the circumstances, we cannot tell ; 
all we know is that it was painful, and perhaps 
disappointing. Paul had used grave and threatening 
language on this occasion (2 Cor. xiii. 2), but he had 
been obliged to tolerate some things which he would 
rather have seen otherwise. This visit was probably 
made toward the close of the three years' stay in 
Ephesus, and the letter referred to in 1 Cor. v. 9 — the 
one in which he warned the Corinthians not to associate 
with fornicators — would most likely be written on his 
return from it In this letter he may very naturally 
have announced that purpose of visiting Corinth twice 
— once on his way to Macedonia, and again on his 
way back — to which reference has already been made. 
This letter, plainly, did not serve its purpose, and not 
long afterwards Paul received at Ephesus deputies 
from the Corinthian Church (1 Cor. xvi. 17), who 
apparently brought written instructions with them, in 
which Paul's judgment was sought more minutely on 
a variety of ethical questions (1 Cor. vii. 1). Before 
these deputies arrived, or at all events before Paul 
wrote the letter (our First Epistle) in which he addressed 
himself to the state of affairs in Corinth which their 
reports had disclosed, Timothy had left Ephesus on a 
journey of some interest. Paul meant Corinth to be 
his destination (1 Cor. iv. 17), but he had to go vM 
Macedonia, and the Apostle was not certain that he 
would get so far (1 Cor. xvi. 10: "But if Timothy 
come," etc.). In point of fact, he does not seem to have 


gone farther than Macedonia ; and Luke in Acts xix. 23 
mentions Macedonia as the place to which he had been 
stent That he got no farther is suggested also by 
the fact that Paul joins his name with his own in the 
salutation of the Second Epistle, which was written in 
Macedonia, but never hints that he owed to him any 
information whatever on the state of the Corinthian 
Church. All that he knew of this, and of the effect of 
his first letter, he learned from Titus (2 Cor. ii. 13, 
vii, 13 f.). But how did Titus happen to be in Corinth 
representing Paul? By far the happiest suggestion 
here is that which makes Titus and the brother of 
2 Cor. xii. 18 the same as "the brethren" of 1 Cor. 
xvi. 12, whose return from Corinth Paul expected in 
the company of Timothy. Timothy, as we have seen, 
did not get so far. Paul's departure from Ephesus was 
apparently hastened by a great peril ; his anxiety, too, 
to hear the effect produced by that letter which had 
cost him so much — our First Epistle — was very great ; 
he pressed on, past Troas, where a fair field of labour 
waited for workers, and finally encountered Titus in 
Macedonia, and heard his report. 

(7) This is the point at which the Second Epistle to 
the Corinthians begins. It falls of itself into three 
clearly marked divisions. The first extends over 
chaps, i.-vii. In this the Apostle makes his peace, so 
to speak, with the Corinthians, and does everything in 
his power to remove any feeling of " soreness " which 
might linger in their minds over his rigorous treatment 
of one particular offender. But embedded in this there 
is a magnificent vindication of the spiritual apostolic 
ministry, especially in contrast with that of the legalists, 
and an appeal for love and confidence such as he had 
always bestowed on the Church. Chaps, viii. and tx. 


form the second part, and are devoted to the collection 
which was being made in the Gentile Churches for 
poor Christians in Jerusalem. The third part consists 
of chaps, x. to xiii. In this Paul confronts the dis- 
orders which still assert themselves in the Church ; the 
pretensions of certain Judaists, " superlative apostles " 
as he calls them, who were assailing his apostolic 
vocation and subverting his gospel ; and the immoral 
licence of others, presumably once pagans, who used 
liberty for a cloak to the flesh. He writes of both 
with unsparing severity, yet he does not wish to be 
severe. He parts from the Church with words of un- 
affected love, and includes them all in his benediction. 


"Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, aad 
Timothy our brother, unto the Church of God which is at Corinth, 
with all the saints which are in the whole of Achaia : Grace to you 
aad peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 

" Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the 
Father of mercies and God of all comfort ; who comforteth us in all 
eur affliction, that we may be able to comfort them that are in any 
affliction, through the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted 
of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound unto us, even so our 
comfort also aboundeth through Christ. But whether we be afflicted, 
H is for your comfort and salvation ; or whether we be comforted, it 
is for your comfort, which worketh in the patient enduring of the 
same sufferings which we also suffer: and our hope for you is 
stedfast ; knowing that, as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so also 
are ye of the comfort."— 2 Cor. i. 1-7 (R.V.). 

THE greeting with which St. Paul introduces his 
Epistles is much alike in them all, but it never 
becomes a mere formality, and ought not to pass unre- 
garded as such. It describes, as a rule, the character 
in which he writes, and the character in which his 
•orrespondents are addressed. Here he is an apostle 
ef Jesus Christ, divinely commissioned ; and he 
addresses a Christian community at Corinth, includ- 
ing in it, for the purposes of his letter, the scattered 
Christians to be found in the other quarters of Achaia, 
His letters are occasional, in the sense that some 
special incident or situation called them forth; but this 



occasional character does not lessen their value. He 
addresses himself to the incident or situation in the 
consciousness of his apostolic vocation ; he writes to 
a Church constituted for permanence, or at least for 
such duration as this transitory world can have ; and 
what we have in his Ep«stles is not a series of obiter 
dicta, the casual utterances of an irresponsible person ; 
it is the mind of Christ authoritatively given upon the 
questions raised. When he includes any other person 
in the salutation — as in this place " Timothy our 
brother " — it is rather as a mark of courtesy, than as 
adding to the Epistle another authority besides his own. 
Timothy had helped to found the Church at Corinth ; 
Paul had shown great anxiety about his reception by 
the Corinthians, when he started to visit that turbulent 
Church alone (1 Cor. xvi. 10 f.); and in this new letter 
he honours him in their eyes by uniting his name with 
his own in the superscription. The Apostle and his 
affectionate fellow-worker wish the Corinthians, as they 
wished all the Churches, grace and peace from God our 
Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. It is not necessary 
to expound afresh the meaning and connexion of these 
two New Testament ideas : grace is the first and last 
word of the Gospel ; and peace — perfect spiritual 
soundness — is the finished work of grace in the soul. 
The Apostle's greeting is usually followed by a 
thanksgiving, in which he recalls the conversion of 
those to whom he is writing, or surveys their progress 
in the new life, and the improvement of their gifts, 
gratefully acknowledging God as the author of all. 
Thus in the First Epistle to the Corinthians he thanks 
God for the grace given to them in Christ Jesus, and 
especially for their Christian enrichment in all utterance 
and in all knowledge. So, too, but with deeper grati- 


tude, he dwells on the virtues of the Thessalonians, 
remembering their work of faith, and labour of love r 
and patience of hope. Here also there is a thanks- 
giving, but at the first glance of a totally different 
character. The Apostle blesses God, not for what He 
has done for the Corinthians, but for what He has done 
for himself. " Blessed be the God and Father of our 
Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of 
all comfort, who comforteth us in all our tribulation." 
This departure from the Apostle's usual custom is 
probably not so selfish as it looks. When his mind 
travelled down from Philippi to Corinth, it rested on the 
spiritual aspects of the Church there with anything but 
unrelieved satisfaction. There was much for which he 
could not possibly be thankful ; and just as the momen- 
tary apostasy of the Galatians led to his omitting the 
thanksgiving altogether, so the unsettled mood in which 
he wrote to the Corinthians gave it this peculiar turn. 
Nevertheless, when he thanked God for comforting 
him in all his afflictions, he thanked Him on their 
behalf. It was they who were eventually to have the 
profit both of his sorrows and his consolations. Pro- 
bably, too, there is something here which is meant 
to appeal even to those who disliked him in Corinth. 
There had been a good deal of friction between the 
Apostle and some who had once owned him as their 
father in Christ ; they were blaming him, at this very 
moment, for not coming to visit them ; and in this 
thanksgiving, which dilates on the afflictions he has 
endured, and on the divine consolation he has expe- 
rienced in them, there is a tacit appeal to the sympathy 
even of hostile spirits. Do not, he seems to say, deal 
ungenerously with one who has passed through such 
terrible experiences, and lays the fruit of them at your 


feet. Chrysostom presses this view, as if St. Paul had 
written his thanksgiving in the character of a suhtle 
diplomatist : to judge by one's feeling, it is true enough 
to deserve mention. 1 

The subject of the thanksgiving is the Apostle's 
sufferings, and his experience of God's mercies under 
them. He expressly calls them the sufferings of Christ. 
These sufferings, he says, abound toward us. Christ 
was the greatest of sufferers : the flood of pain and 
sorrow went over His head ; all its waves and billows 
broke upon Him. The Apostle was caught and over- 
whelmed by the same stream ; the waters came into 
his soul. That is the meaning of ra TraQ^yuvra rov 
Xpurrov ireptcraevei els f)fia<i. In abundant measure the 
disciple was initiated into his Master's stern experience ; 
he learned, what he prayed to learn, the fellowship of 
His sufferings. The boldness of the language in which 
a mortal man calls his own afflictions the sufferings of 
Christ is far from unexampled in the New Testament 
It is repeated by St. Paul in Col. i. 24 : "I now rejoice 
in my sufferings on your behalf, and fill up that which 
is lacking of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for 
His body's sake, which is the Church." It is varied 
in Heb. xiii. 13, where the sacred writer exhorts us 
to go out to Jesus, without the camp, bearing His 
reproach. It is anticipated and justified by the words 

* The same view is strongly held by Schmiedel. He infers from 
chap. vi. 9 that Paul's sufferings had been interpreted at Corinth as 
a divine chastisement; in opposition to this the Apostle shows that 
they are divinely intended to profit the Corinthians. Hence the 
opening of the letter is not a simple outpouring of his heart, but is 
delicately calculated to set aside a reproach without naming it. The 
same purpose rules in the assumption that the Corinthians will 
intercede and give thanks on his behalf; it takes for granted their 
reconciliation to him. 


of the Lord Himself: "Ye shall indeed drink of My 
cup ; and with the baptism with which I am baptised 
shall ye be baptised withal." One lot, and that a 
cross, awaits all the children of God in this world, from 
the Only-begotten who came from the bosom of the 
Father, to the latest-born among His brethren. But 
let us beware of the hasty assertion that, because the 
Christian's sufferings can thus be described as of a 
piece with Christ's, the key to the mystery of Geth- 
semane and Calvary is to be found in the self-con- 
sciousness of martyrs and confessors. The very man 
who speaks of filling up that which is lacking of the 
afflictions of Christ for the Church's sake, and who 
says that the sufferings of Christ came on him in their 
fulness, would have been the first to protest against 
such an idea. " Was Paul crucified for you ? " Christ 
suffered alone ; there is, in spite of our fellowship with 
His sufferings, a solitary, incommunicable greatness in 
His Cross, which the Apostle will expound in another 
place (chap. v.). Even when Christ's sufferings come 
upon us there is a difference. At the very lowest, as 
Vinet has it, we do from gratitude what He did from 
pure love. We suffer in His company, sustained by 
His comfort ; He suffered uncomforted and unsustained. 
We are afflicted, when it so happens, "under the 
auspices of the divine mercy " ; He was afflicted that 
there might be mercy for us. 

Few parts of Bible teaching are more recklessly 
applied than those about suffering and consolation. If 
all that men endured was of the character here 
described, if all their sufferings were sufferings of 
Christ, which came on them because they were walking 
in His steps and assailed by the forces which buffeted 
Him, consolation would be an easy task. The presence 


of God with the soul would make it almost unnecessary. 
The answer of a good conscience would take all the 
bitterness out of pain ; and then, however it tortured, it 
could not poison the soul. The mere sense that our 
sufferings are the sufferings of Christ — that we are 
drinking of His cup — is itself a comfort and an inspira- 
tion beyond w^rds. But much of our suffering, we 
know very well, is of a different character. It does not 
come on us because we are united to Christ, but because 
we are estranged from Him ; it is the proof and the 
fruit, not of our righteousness, but of our guilt. It is 
our sin finding us out, and avenging itself upon us, and 
in no sense the suffering of Christ. Such suffering, 
no doubt, has its use and its purpose. It is meant to 
drive the soul in upon itself, to compel it to reflection, 
to give it no rest till it awakes to penitence, to urge it 
through despair to God. Those who suffer thus will 
have cause to thank God afterwards if His discipline 
leads to their amendment, but they have no title to take 
to themselves the consolation prepared for those who 
are partners in the sufferings of Christ. Nor is the 
minister of Christ at liberty to apply a passage like this 
to any case of affliction which he encounters in his 
work. There are sufferings and sufferings; there is 
a divine intention in them all, if we could only discover 
it; but the divine intention and the divinely wrought 
result are only explained here for one particular kind — 
those sufferings, namely, which come upon men in 
virtue of their following Jesus Christ What, then 
docs the Apostle's experience enable him to say on this 
hard question ? 

(1) His sufferings have brought him a new revelation 
of God, which is expressed in the new name, "The 
Father of mercies and God of all comfort" The name 


is wonderful in its tenderness ; we feel as we pronounce 
it that a new conception of what love can be has been 
imparted to the Apostle's soul. It is in the sufferings 
and sorrows of life that we discover what we possess 
in our human friends. Perhaps one abandons us in our 
extremity, and another betrays us ; but most of us find 
ourselves unexpectedly and astonishingly rich. People 
of whom we have hardly ever had a kind thought show 
us kindness; the unsuspected, unmerited goodness which 
comes to our relief makes us ashamed. This is the rule 
which is illustrated here by the example of God Himself. 
It is as if the Apostle said : " I never knew, till the suf- 
ferings of Christ abounded in me, how near God could 
come to man ; I never knew how rich His mercies could 
be, how intimate His sympathy, how inspiriting His 
comfort." This is an utterance well worth considering. 
The sufferings of men, and especially the sufferings 
of the innocent and the good, are often made the 
ground of hasty charges against God ; nay, they are 
often turned into arguments for Atheism. But who 
are they who make such charges ? Not the righteous 
sufferers, at least in New Testament times. The Apostle 
here is their representative and spokesman, and he 
assures us that God never was so much to him as when 
he was in the sorest straits. The divine love wa3 
so far from being doubtful to him that it shone out 
then in unanticipated brightness ; the very heart of the 
Father was revealed— all mercy, all encouragement and 
comfort. If the martyrs have no doubts of their own 
is it not very gratuitous for the spectators to become 
sceptics on their account ? " The sufferings of Christ " 
in His people may be an insoluble problem to the 
disinterested onlooker, but they are no problem to 
the sufferers. What is a mystery, when viewed from 


without, a mystery in which God seems to be con- 
spicuous by His absence, is, when viewed from within, 
a new and priceless revelation of God Himself. " The 
Father of mercies and God of all comfort " is making 
Himself known now as for want of opportunity He 
could not be known before. 

Notice especially that the consolation is said to 
abound " through Christ." He is the mediator through 
whom it comes. To partake in His sufferings is to be 
united to Him ; and to be united to Him is to partake 
in His life. The Apostle anticipates here a thought 
on which he enlarges in the fourth chapter : " Always 
bearing about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the 
life also of Jesus may be manifested in our body." 
In our eagerness to emphasise the nearness and the 
sympathy of Jesus, it is to be feared that we do less 
than justice to the New Testament revelation of His 
glory. He does not suffer now. He is enthroned on 
high, far above all principality and power and might 
and dominion. The Spirit which brings His presence 
to our hearts is the Spirit of the Prince of Life ; its 
function is not to be weak with our weakness, but to 
help our infirmity, and to strengthen us with all might 
in the inner man. The Christ who dwells in us through 
His Spirit is not the Man of Sorrows, wearing the crown 
of thorns ; it is the King of kings and Lord of lords, 
making us partakers of His triumph. There is a weak 
tone in much of the religious literature which deals 
with suffering, utterly unlike that of the New Testament 
It is a degradation of Christ to our level which it 
teaches, instead of an exaltation of man toward Christ's. 
But the last is the apostolic ideal : " More than con- 
querors through Him that loved us." The comfort of 
which St. Paul makes so much here is not necessarily 



deliverance from suffering for Christ's sake, still less 
exemption from it ; it is the strength and courage and 
immortal hope which rise up, even in the midst ot 
suffering, in the heart in which the Lord of glory dwells 
Through Him such comfort abounds; it wells up to 
match and more than match the rising tide of suffering. 
(2) But Paul's sufferings have done more than give 
him a new knowledge of God ; they have given him at 
the same time a new power to comfort others. He is 
bold enough to make this ministry of consolation the 
key to his recent experiences. " He comforteth us in 
all our affliction, that we may be able to comfort them 
that are in any affliction, through the comfort where- 
with we ourselves are comforted of God." His sufferings 
and his consolation together had a purpose that went 
beyond himself. How significant that is for some 
perplexing aspects of man's life 1 We are selfish, and 
instinctively regard ourselves as the centre of all 
providences; we naturally seek to explain everything 
by its bearing on ourselves alone. But God has not 
made us for selfishness and isolation, and some 
mysteries would be cleared up if we had love enough 
to see the ties by which our life is indissolubly linked 
to others. This, however, is less definite than the 
Apostle's thought; what he tells us is that he has 
gained a new power at a great price. It is a power 
which almost every Christian man will covet ; but how 
many are willing to pass through the fire to obtain 
it ? We must ourselves have needed and have found 
comfort, before we know what it is ; we must ourselves 
have learned the art of consoling in the school of 
suffering, before we can practise it for the benefit of 
others. The most painfully tried, the most proved in 
suffering, the souls that are best acquainted with grief 


provided their consolation has abounded through Christ, 
arc specially called to this ministry. Their experience 
is their preparation for it. Nature is something, and 
age is something ; but far more than nature and age is 
that discipline of God to which they have been sub- 
mitted, that initiation into the sufferings of Christ which 
has made them acquainted with His consolations also, 
and has taught them to know the Father of mercies and 
the God of all comfort. Are they not among His best 
gifts to the Church, those whom He has qualified to 
console, by consoling them in the fire ? 

In the sixth verse the Apostle dwells on the interest 
of the Corinthians in his sufferings and his consolation. 
It is a practical illustration of the communion of the 
saints in Christ. " All that befalls me" says St. Paul, 
" has your interest in view. If I am afflicted, it is in 
the interest of your comfort : when you look at me, and 
see how I bear myself in the sufferings of Christ, you 
will be encouraged to become imitators of me, even as 
I am of Him. If, again, I am comforted, this also is in 
the interest of your comfort ; God enables me to impart 
to you what He has imparted to me ; and the comfort 
in question is no impotent thing ; it proves its power 
in this — that when you have received it, you endure with 
brave patience the same sufferings which we also suffer." 
This last is a favourite thought with the Apostle, and 
connects itself readily with the idea, which may or may 
not have a right to be expressed in the text, that all this 
is in furtherance of the salvation of the Corinthians. 1 

' The text is incurably perplexed. The variations can be seen is 
•ay critical edition. The MS. authority does not justify any con- 
ideat decision, and the happiest suggestion yet made seems to be 
that «f Professor Warfield, who would omit altogether the words 


For if there is one note of the saved more certain than 
another, it is the brave patience with which they take 
upon them the sufferings of Christ, 6 8e inrofj.eiva<i eh 
ri\o<i, ovrot <rwO>]<reTai (Matt. x. 22). All that helps 
men to endure to the end, helps them to salvation. 
All that tends to break the spirit and to sink men 
in despondency, or hurry them into impatience or fear, 
leads in the opposite direction. The great service that 
a true comforter does is to put the strength and courage 
into us which enable us to take up our cross, however 
sharp and heavy, and to bear it to the last step and the 
last breath. No comfort is worth the name — none is 
taught of God — which has another efficacy than this. 
The saved are those whose souls rise to this description, 
and who recognise their spiritual kindred in such brave 
and patient sufferers as Paul. 

The thanksgiving ends appropriately with a cheerful 
word about the Corinthians. " Our hope for you is 
stedfast; knowing that, as ye are partakers of the 
sufferings, so are ye also of the comfort." These two 
things go together; it is the appointed lot of the 
children of God to become acquainted with both. If 
the sufferings could come alone, if they could be 
assigned as the portion of the Church apart from the 
consolation, Paul could have no hope that the Cor- 
inthians would endure to the end ; but as it is, he is 
not afraid. The force of his words is perhaps best 
felt by us, if instead of saying that the sufferings 
and the consolation are inseparable, we say that the 

<al awniplat (and salvation). The MSS. vary most in regard to these 
words, inserting, omitting, and transposing them. Hence they are 
eery probably an old gloss, and their omission simplifies both the 
grammar and the sense. 


consolation depends upon the sufferings. And what 
is the consolation ? It is the presence of the exalted 
Saviour in the heart through His Spirit. It is a clear 
perception, and a firm hold, of the things which are 
unseen and eternal. It is a conviction of the divine 
love which cannot be shaken, and of its sovereignty and 
omnipotence in the Risen Christ. This infinite comfort 
is contingent upon our partaking of the sufferings of 
Christ. There is a point, the Apostle seems to say, 
at which the invisible world and its glories intersect 
this world in which we live, and become visible, real, 
and inspiring to men. It is the point at which we suffer 
with Christ's sufferings. At any other point the vision 
of this glory is unneeded, and therefore withheld. The 
worldly, the selfish, the cowardly ; those who shrink 
from self-denial ; those who evade pain ; those who 
root themselves in the world that lies around us, and 
when they move at all move in the line of least resist- 
ance ; those who have never carried Christ's Cross, — 
none of these can ever have the triumphant conviction 
of things unseen and eternal which throbs in every 
page of the New Testament. None of these can have 
what the Apostle elsewhere calls " eternal consolation." 
It is easy for unbelievers, and for Christians lapsing 
into unbelief, to mock this faith as faith in " the trans- 
cendent "; but would a single line of the New Testament 
have been written without it ? When we weigh what 
is here asserted about its connexion with the sufferings 
of Christ, could a graver charge be brought against 
any Church than that its faith in this " transcendent " 
languished or was extinct? Do not let us hearken 
to the sceptical insinuations which would rob us of all 
that has been revealed in Christ's resurrection ; and do 
not let us imagine, on the other hand, that we can 


retain a living faith in this revelation if we decline to 
take up our cross. It was only when the sufferings 
of Christ abounded in him that Paul's consolation was 
abundant through Christ; it was only when he laid 
down his life for His sake that Stephen saw the 
heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the 
right hand of God 



u For we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning our 
affliction which befell us in Asia, that we were weighed down exceed- 
ingly, beyond our power, insomuch that we despaired even of life : 
yea, we ourselves have had the answer of death within ourselves, 
that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the 
dead: who delivered us out of so great a death, and will deliver: on 
whom we have set our hope that He will also still deliver us ; ye 
also helping together on our behalf by your supplication; that, for 
the gift bestowed upon us by means of many, thanks may be given 
by many persons on our behalf. 

" For our glorying is this, the testimony of our conscience, that is 
holiness and sincerity of God, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace 
of God, we behaved ourselves in the world, and more abundantly to 
you-ward. For we write none other things unto you, than what ye 
read or even acknowledge, and I hope ye will acknowledge unto the 
end : as also ye did acknowledge us in part, that we are your glory- 
ing, even as ye also are ours, in the day of our Lord Jesus." — 2 Co*, 
i. 8-14 (R.V.). 

PAUL seems to have felt that the thanksgiving with 
which he opens this letter to the Corinthians was 
so peculiar as to require explanation. It was not his 
way to burst upon his readers thus with his private 
experiences either of joy or sorrow ; and though he 
had good reason for what he did — in that abundance 
of the heart out of which the mouth speaks, in his 
desire to conciliate the good-will of the Corinthians for 
a much-tried man, and in his faith in the real com- 
munion of the saints — he instinctively stops here a 



moment to vindicate what he has done. He does not 
wish them to be ignorant of an experience which has 
been so much to him, and ought to have the liveliest 
interest for them. 

Evidently they knew that he had been in trouble, 
but they had no sufficient idea of the extremity to 
which he had been reduced. We were weighed down, 
he writes, in excess, beyond our power ; the trial that 
came upon us was one not measured to man's strength. 
We despaired even of life. Nay, we have had* the 
answer of death in ourselves. When we looked about 
us, when we faced our circumstances, and asked our- 
6elves whether death or life was to be the end of this, 
we could only answer, Death. We were like men 
under sentence ; it was only a question of a little 
sooner or a little later, when the fatal stroke should 

The Apostle, who has a divine gift for interpreting 
experience and reading its lessons, tells us why he and 
his friends had to pass such a terrible time. It was 
that they might trust, not in themselves, but in God 
who raises the dead. It is natural, he implies, for us to 
trust in ourselves. It is so natural, and so confirmed 
by the habits of a lifetime, that no ordinary difficulties 
or perplexities avail to break us of it. It takes all God 
can do to root up our self-confidence. He must reduce 
us to despair ; He must bring us to such an extremity 
that the one voice we have in our hearts, the one voice 
that cries to us wherever we look round for help, is 
Death, death, death. It is out of this despair that the 

1 Notice the perfect iax^xafter. We had this experience, and in 
its fruit — a newer and deeper faith in God — we havt it still. It is 
a permanent possession in this happy form. The same idea ia 
expressed in the pit ^XrlKafitv, ver. IO. 


superhuman hope is born. It is out of this abject 
helplessness that the soul learns to look up with new 
trust to God. 

It is a melancholy reflection upon human nature that 
we have, as the Apostle expresses it elsewhere, to be 
"shut up" to all the mercies of God. If we could 
evade them, notwithstanding their freeness and their 
worth, we would. How do most of us attain to any 
faith in Providence? Is it not by proving, through 
numberless experiments, that it is not in man that 
walketh to direct his steps ? Is it not by coming, again 
and again, to the limit of our resources, and being 
compelled to feel that unless there is a wisdom and a 
love at work on our behalf, immeasurably wiser and 
more benignant than our own, life is a moral chaos ? 
How, above all, do we come to any faith in redemp- 
tion ? to any abiding trust in Jesus Christ as the 
Saviour of our souls ? Is it not by this same way of 
despair ? Is it not by the profound consciousness that 
in ourselves there is no answer to the question, How 
shall man be just with God ? and that the answer must 
be sought in Him ? Is it not by failure, by defeat, by 
deep disappointments, by ominous forebodings harden- 
ing into the awful certainty that we cannot with our 
own resources make ourselves good men — is it not by 
experiences like these that we are led to the Cross ? 
This principle has many other illustrations in human 
life, and every one of them is something to our dis- 
credit. They all mean that only desperation opens our 
eyes to God's love. We do not heartily own Him as 
the author of life and health, unless He has raised us 
from sickness after the doctor had given us up. We 
do not acknowledge His paternal guidance of our life, 
unless in some sudden peril, or some impending 


disaster, He provides an unexpected deliverance. We 
do not confess that salvation is of the Lord, till our 
very soul has been convinced that in it there dwells no 
good thing. Happy are those who are taught, even by 
despair, to set their hope in God ; and who, when they 
learn this lesson once, learn it, like St. Paul, once for 
all (see note on ia-x/jKafiev above). Faith and hope 
like those which burn through this Epistle were well 
worth purchasing, even at such a price ; they were 
blessings so valuable that the love of God did not 
shrink from reducing Paul to despair that he might be 
compelled to grasp them. Let us believe when such 
trials come into our lives — when we are weighed down 
exceedingly, beyond our strength, and are in darkness 
without light, in a valley of the shadow of death with 
no outlet — that God is not dealing with us cruelly or 
at random, but shutting us up to an experience of His 
love which we have hitherto declined. "After two 
days will He revive us ; on the third day He will raise 
us up, and we shall live before Him." 

The Apostle describes the God on whom he learned 
to hope as "God who raises the dead." He himself 
had been as good as dead, and his deliverance was as 
good as a resurrection. The phrase, however, seems 
to be the Apostle's equivalent for omnipotence : when 
he thinks of the utmost that God can do, he expresses 
it thus. Sometimes the application of it is merely 
physical {e.g., Rom. iv. 17); sometimes it is spiritual 
as well. Thus in Eph. i. 19 ff. the possibilities of the 
Christian life are measured by this— that that power is 
at work in believers with which God wrought in Christ 
when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at 
His own right hand in the heavenly places. Is not 
that power sufficient to do for the weakest and most 


desperate of men far more than all he needs ? Yet it 
is his need, somehow, when brought home to him in 
despair, that opens his eyes to this omnipotent saving 

The text of the words in which Paul tells of his 
deliverance can hardly be said to be quite certain, but 
the general meaning is plain. God delivered him from 
the awful death which was impending over him ; he 
had his hope now firmly set on Him ; he was sure that 
He would deliver him in the future also. 1 What the 
danger had been, which had made so powerful an 
impression on this hardy soul, we cannot now tell. It 
must have been something which happened after the 
First Epistle was written, and therefore was not the 
fighting with wild beasts at Ephesus, whatever that may 
have been (1 Cor. xv. 32). It may have been a serious 
bodily illness, which had brought him to death's door, 
and left him so weak, that still, at every step, he felt it 
was God's mercy that was holding him up. It may 
have been a plot to make away with him on the part 
of the many adversaries mentioned in the First Epistle 
(xvi 9) — a plot which had failed, as it were, by a 
miracle, but the malignity of which still dogged his steps, 

* The doubtful words here are koX (tiern in ver. 10 of the Received 
Text, from D*. E, F, G, K, etc. (" and doth deliver," in the Authorised 
Version). They are not found in A, D, Syr., Chrys., while the most 
authoritative MSS., N, B, C, P, have gai jiigtrai (" and will deliver," 
of the Revised Version). Most editors take the last reading, as best 
attested ; but on internal grounds two of the most recent and acute inter- 
preters, Schmiedel and Heinrici, prefer the Received Text. The present 
tense {"doth deliver") presupposes that the danger to which Paul had 
bee* exposed in some form or in some sense continued. If this were 
the case, of course it could not have been, as Hofmann supposes, the 
shipwreck in which the Apostle spent a night and a day in the deep. 
Otherwise this would be a plausible and tempting supposition. 


and was only warded off by the constant presence of 

God. Both these suggestions require, and would satisfy, 

the reading, " who delivered us from so great a death, 

and doth deliver." If, however, we take the reading of 

the R.V. — " who delivered us from so great a death, and 

will deliver ; on whom we have set our hope that He 

will also still deliver us " — the existence of the danger, 

at the moment at which Paul writes, is not necessarily 

involved; and the danger itself may have been more 

of what we might call an accidental character. The 

imminent peril of drowning referred to in chap. xL 25 

would meet the case ; and the confidence expressed by 

Paul with such emphatic reference to the future will not 

seem without motive when we consider that he had 

several sea voyages in prospect — as those from Corinth 

to Syria, from Syria to Rome, and probably from 

Rome to Spain. So Hofmann interprets the whole 

passage : but whether the interpretation be good or 

bad, it is elsewhere than in its accidental circumstances 

that the interest of the transaction lies for the writer 

and for us. To Paul it was not merely a historical 

but a spiritual experience ; not an incident without 

meaning, but a divinely ordered discipline ; and it is 

thus that we must learn to read our own lives if the 

purpose of God is to be wrought out in them. 

Notice in this connexion, in the eleventh verse, how 
simply Paul assumes the spiritual participation of the 
Corinthians in his fortunes. It is God indeed who 
delivers him, but the deliverance is wrought while 
they, as well as other Churches, co-operate in supplica- 
tion on his behalf. In the strained relations existing 
between himself and the Corinthians, the assumption 
here made so graciously probably did them more than 
justice ; if there were unsympathetic souls among them 


they must have felt in it a delicate rebuke. What 
follows — " that, for the gift bestowed upon us by the 
means of many, thanks may be given by many persons 
on our behalf" (R.V.) — simple and intelligible as it 
looks in English, is one of the passages which justify 
M. Sabatier's remark that Paul is difficult to under- 
stand and impossible to translate. The Revisers seem 
to have construed to et? fjfia<; ^dptafia Siii vo\\&9 
together, as if it had been to Bta tt. e. f). xdpio-fiui, the 
meaning being that the favour bestowed on Paul in his 
deliverance from this peril had been bestowed at the 
intercession of many. Others get virtually the same 
meaning by construing to cfc rjfias \api<ryya with e« 
troWStv irpoaanrwy : the inversion is supposed to em- 
phasise these last words ; and as it was, on this view, 
prayer on the part of many persons that procured his 
deliverance, Paul is anxious that the deliverance itself 
should be acknowledged by the thanksgiving of many. 
It cannot be denied that both these renderings are 
grammatically violent, and it seems to me preferable 
to keep to €« ^/to? ■xapur/jui by itself, even though 
ix voW&p irpoadmfav and Biol ttoXXcov should then 
reduplicate the same idea with only a slight variation. 
We should then render : " in order that, on the part of 
many persons, the favour shown to us may be grate- 
fully acknowledged by many on our behalf." The 
pleonasm thus resulting strikes one rather as charac- 
teristic of St. Paul's mood in such passages, than as 
a thing open to objection. 1 But grammar apart, what 
really has to be emphasised here is again the com- 

1 To render 5»4 xoXXwf pro/ire, copiously, is at least precarious; 
and to take irp&ouira as "faces" ("that from many faces upturned 
in prayer to God "), though lexically admissible, seems on all other 
(rounds out of place- 


munion of the saints. All the Churches pray for St. 
Paul — at least he takes it for granted that they do ; and 
when he is rescued from danger, his own thanksgiving 
is multiplied a thousandfold by the thanksgivings of 
others on his behalf. This is the ideal of an evan- 
gelist's life ; in all its incidents and emergencies, in all 
its perils and salvations, it ought to float in an atmo- 
sphere of prayer. Every interposition of God on the 
missionary's behalf is then recognised by him as a gift 
of grace (^apia/to) — not, be it understood, a private 
favour, but a blessing and a power capacitating him 
for further service to the Church. Those who have 
lived through his straits and his triumphs with him in 
their prayers know how true that is. 

At this point (ver. 12) the key in which Paul writes 
begins to change. We are conscious of a slight dis- 
cord the instant he speaks about the testimony of his 
conscience. Yet the transition is as unforced as any 
such transition can be. I may well take for granted, 
seems to be the thought in his mind, that you pray for 
me; I may well ask you to unite with me in thanks 
to God for my deliverance ; for if there is one thing 
I am sure of, and proud of, it is that I have been a 
loyal minister of God in the world, and especially to 
you. Fleshly wisdom has not been my guide. I have 
used no worldly policy ; I have sought no selfish ends. 
In a holiness and sincerity which God bestows, in an 
element of crystal transparency, I have led my apostolic 
life. The world has never convicted me of anything 
dark or underhand; and in all the world none know 
better than you, among whom I lived longer than 
elsewhere, working with my hands, and preaching the 
Gospel as freely as God offers it, that I have walked 
in the light as He is in the light. 


This general defence, which is not without its note 
of defiance, becomes defined in ver. 13. Plainly charges 
of insincerity had been made against Paul, particularly 
affecting his correspondence, and it is to these he 
addresses himself. It is not easy to be outspoken and 
conciliatory in the same sentence, to show your in- 
dignation to the man who charges you with double- 
dealing, and at the same time take him to your heart ; 
and the Apostle's effort to do all these things at once 
has proved embarrassing to himself, and more than 
embarrassing to his interpreters. He begins, indeed, 
lucidly enough. " We write nothing else to you than 
what you read." He does not mean that he had no 
correspondence with members of the Church except in 
his public epistles ; but that in these public epistles 
his meaning was obvious and on the surface. His 
style was not, as some had hinted, obscure, tortuous, 
elaborately ambiguous, full of loop-holes; he wrote 
like a plain man to plain men ; he said what he meant, 
and meant what he said. Then he qualifies this 
slightly. "We write nothing to you but what you 
read — or in point of fact acknowledge," even apart from 
our writing. This seems to me the simplest interpreta- 
tion of the words fj Kai iviyivwcrKere ; and the simplest 
construction is then that of Hofmann, who puts a colon 
at hri^ivdnTKere, and with e\7ri'£a> 81 begins what is 
virtually a separate sentence. " And I hope that to the 
end ye will acknowledge, as in fact you acknowledged 
us in part, that we are your boast, as you also are 
ours, in the day of the Lord Jesus." Other possi- 
bilities of punctuation and construction are so numerous 
that it would be endless to exhibit them ; and in the 
long-run they do not much affect the sense. What 
the reader has to seize is that Paul has been accused 


of insincerity, especially in his correspondence, and 
that he indignantly denies the charge ; that, in spite 
of such accusations, he can point to at least a partial 
recognition among the Corinthians of what he and his 
fellow-workers really are; and that he hopes their 
confidence in him will increase and continue to the 
end. Should this bright hope be gratified, then in 
the day of the Lord Jesus it will be the boast of the 
Corinthians that they had the great Apostle Paul as 
their spiritual father, and the boast of the Apostle that 
the Corinthians were his spiritual children. 

A passage like this — and there are many like it in 

St Paul — has something in it humiliating. Is it not 

a disgrace to human nature that a man so open, so 

truthful, so brave, should be put to his defence on a 

charge of underhand dealing? Ought not somebody 

to have been deeply ashamed, for bringing this shame 

on the Apostle ? Let us be very careful how we lend 

motives, especially to men whom we know to be better 

than ourselves. There is that in all our hearts which 

is hostile to them, and would not be grieved to see 

them degraded a little ; and it is that, and nothing 

else, which supplies bad motives for their good actions, 

and puts an ambiguous face on their simplest behaviour. 

14 Deceit," says Solomon, " is in the heart of them that 

imagine evil " ; it is our own selves that we condemn 

most surely when we pass our bad sentence upon 


The immediate result of imputing motives, and 
putting a sinister interpretation on actions, is that 
mutual confidence is destroyed ; and mutual confidence 
is the very element and atmosphere in which any 
spiritual good can be done. Unless a minister and 
his congregation recognise each other as in the main 


what they profess to be, their relation is destitute of 
spiritual reality; it may be an infinite weariness, or 
an infinite torment ; it can never be a comfort or a 
delight on one side or the other. What would a family 
be, without the mutual confidence of husband and wife, 
of parents and children ? What is a state worth, for 
any of the ideal ends for which a state exists, if those 
who represent it to the world have no instinctive 
sympathy with the general life, and if the collective 
conscience regards the leaders from a distance with 
dislike or distrust ? And what is the pastoral relation 
worth, if, instead of mutual cordiality, openness, readi- 
ness to believe and to hope the best, instead of mutual 
intercession and thanksgiving, of mutual rejoicing in 
each other, there is suspicion, reserve, insinuation, 
coldness, a grudging recognition of what it is impos- 
sible to deny, a willingness to shake the head and to 
make mischief? What an experience of life we see, 
what a final appreciation of the best thing, in that 
utterance of St. John in extreme age : " Beloved, let us 
love one another." All that is good for us, all glory 
and joy, is summarily comprehended in that. 

The last words of the text — " the day of the Lord 
Jesus" — recall a very similar passage in I Thess. 
ii. 19 : " What is our hope, or joy, or crown of 
rejoicing— is it not even ye — before our Lord Jesus at 
His coming?" In both cases our minds are lifted to 
that great presence in which St. Paul habitually lived ; 
and as we stand there our disagreements sink into 
their true proportions ; our judgments of each other 
are seen in their true colours. No one will rejoice 
then that he has made evil out of good, that he hat 
cunningly perverted simple actions, that he has dis- 
covered the infirmities of preachers, or set the saints 



at variance ; the joy will be for those who have loved 
and trusted each other, who have borne each other's 
faults and laboured for their healing, who have believed 
all things, hoped all things, endured all things, rather 
than be parted from each other by any failure of love. 
The mutual confidence of Christian ministers and 
Christian people will then, after all its trials, have its 
exceeding great reward. 



" And in this confidence I was minded to come before unto yea, 
that ye might have a second benefit ; and by you to pass into 
Macedonia, and again from Macedonia to come unto you, and *f you 
to be set forward on my journey unto Judsea. When I therefore 
waa thus minded, did I show fickleness ? or the things that I purpose, 
4o I purpose according to the flesh, that with me there should be the 
yea yea and the nay nay ? But as God is faithful, our word toward 
you is not yea and nay. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was 
preached among you by us, tv*n by me and Silvanus and Timothy, 
was not yea and nay, but in Him is yea. For how many soever be 
the promises of God, in Him is the yea : wherefore also through Him 
is the Amen, unto the glory of God through us." — 2 Con. L 15-20 

THE emphatic words in the first sentence are " in 
this confidence." AH the Apostle's plans for 
visiting Corinth, both in general and in their details, 
depended upon the maintenance of a good under- 
standing between himself and the Church ; and the 
very prominence here given to this condition is a tacit 
accusation of those whose conduct had destroyed his 
confidence. When he intimated his intention of visit- 
ing them, according to the programme of vv. 15 and i6 t 
he had felt sure of a friendly welcome, and of the 
cordial recognition of his apostolic authority ; it was 
only when that assurance was taken away from him 
by news of what was being said and done at Corinth, 
that he had changed his plan. He had originally 



intended to go from Ephesus to Corinth, then from 
Corinth north into Macedonia, then back to Corinth 
again, and thence, with the assistance of the Corinthians, 
or their convoy for part of the way, to Jerusalem. Had 
this purpose been carried out, he would of course have 
been twice in Corinth, and it is to this that most 
scholars refer the words " a second benefit," 1 or rather 
"grace." This reference, indeed, is not quite certain; 
and it cannot be proved, though it is made more pro- 
bable, by using irporepov and Bevrepav to interpret each 
other. It remains possible that when Paul said, " I 
was minded to come before unto you, that ye might 
have a second benefit," he was thinking of his original 
visit as the first, and of this purposed one as the 
second, " grace." This reading of his words has com- 
mended itself to scholars like Calvin, Bengel, and 
Heinrici. Whichever of these interpretations be 
correct, the Apostle had abandoned his purpose of 
going from Ephesus to Macedonia via Corinth, and 
had intimated in the First Epistle (chap. xvi. 5) his 
intention of reaching Corinth via Macedonia. This 
change of purpose is not sufficient to explain what 
follows. Unless there had been at Corinth a great 
deal of bad feeling, it would have passed without 
remark, as a thing which had no doubt good reasons, 
though the Corinthians were ignorant of them ; at the 
very most, it would have called forth expressions of 
disappointment and regret. They would have been 
sorry that the benefit (%apt?), the token of Divine 
favour which was always bestowed when the Apostle 

1 For %api», (benefit) K e , B, L, P, have x«P<l» (joy) Though 
"Westcott and Hort put this in the text, and %6.fnr in the margin, most 
scholars are agreed that %ipv is the Apostle's word, and x a P& a 
■lip or a correction. 


'in the fulness of the blessing of Christ," and 
"longing to impart some spiritual gift," had been 
delayed ; but they would have acquiesced as in any 
other natural disappointment. But this was not what 
took place. They used the Apostle's change of purpose 
to assail his character. They charged him with " light- 
ness," with worthless levity. They called him a 
weathercock, a Yes and No man, who said now one 
thing and now the opposite, who said both at once and 
with equal emphasis, who had his own interests in 
view in his fickleness, and whose word, to speak plainly, 
could never be depended upon. 

The responsibility for the change of plan has already r 
in the emphatic ravrr) rg Tre-n-oidrja-ei, been indirectly 
transferred to his accusers ; but the Apostle stoops to 
answer them quite straightforwardly. His answer is 
indeed a challenge : " When 1 cherished that first 
wish to visit you, was I — dare you say I was — guilty 
of the levity with which you charge me ? Or — to 
enlarge the question, and, seeing that my whole cha- 
racter is attacked, to bring my character as a whole 
into the discussion — the things that I purpose, do I 
purpose according to the flesh, that with me there 
should be the yea yea and the nay nay ? " Am I, 
he seems to say, in my character and conduct, like 
a shifty, unprincipled politician — a man who has no 
convictions, or no conscience about his convictions — 
a man who is guided, not by any higher spirit dwelling 
in him, but solely by considerations of selfish interest ? 
Do I say things out of mere compliment, not meaning 
them ? When I make promises, or announce inten- 
tions, is it always with the tacit reservation that they 
may be cancelled if they turn out inconvenient ? Do 
you suppose that I purposely represent myself {Xva $ 


irap' ifiot) as a man who affirms and denies, makes 
promises and breaks them, has Yes yes and No no 
dwelling side by side in his soul ? ' You know me far 
better than to suppose any such thing. All my com- 
munications with you have been inconsistent with such 
a view of my character. As God is faithful, our word 
to you is not Yes and No. It is not incoherent, or 
equivocal, or self-contradictory. It is entirely truthful 
and self-consistent. 

In this eighteenth verse the Apostle's mind is reaching 
out already to what he is going to make his real defence, 
and o Xoyo? jJ/iwv ("our word") therefore carries a double 
weight. It covers at once whatever he had said to them 
about the proposed journey, and whatever he had said 
in his evangelistic ministry at Corinth. It is this latter 
sense of it that is continued in ver. 19 : " For the Son 
of God, Christ Jesus, who was preached among you by 
us, by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not Yes 
and No, but in him Yes has found place. For how 
many soever are the promises of God, in Him is the 
Yes." Let us notice first the argumentative force of 
this. Paul is engaged in vindicating his character, 
and especially in maintaining his truthfulness and 
sincerity. How does he do so here ? His unspoken 
assumption is, that character is determined by the 
main interest of life ; that the work to which a man 

1 Mention may be made here of another interpretation of ver. 17, 
Modifications of which recur from Chrysostom to Hofmann. la 
substance it is this: "The things that I purpose, do I purpose 
according to the flesh (i.e., with the stubborn consistency of a proud 
man, who disposes as well as proposes), that with me (i/xoi emphatic: 
me, as if / were God, always to do what I would like to do) the Yea 
should be yes, and the No, no — i.t., every promise inviolably kept?' 
This is grammatically quite good, but contextually impossible. 


gives his soul will react upon the soul, changing it 
into its own likeness. As the dyer's hand is subdued 
to the element it works in, so was the whole being of 
Paul — such is the argument — subdued to the element 
in which he wrought, conformed to it, impregnated by 
it And what was that element ? It was the Gospel 
concerning God's Son, Jesus Christ. Was there any 
dubiety about what that was ? any equivocal mixture 
of Yes and No there ? Far from it. Paul was so 
certain of what it was that he repeatedly and solemnly 
anathematised man or angel who should venture to 
qualify, let alone deny it. There is no mixture of Yes 
and No in Christ. As the Apostle says elsewhere 
(Rom. xv. 8), Jesus Christ was a minister of the 
circumcision " in the interest of the truth of God, with 
a view to the confirmation of the promises." However 
many the promises might be, in Him a mighty affirma- 
tion, a mighty fulfilment, was given of every one. The 
ministry of the Gospel has this, then, as its very sub- 
ject, its constant preoccupation, its highest glory — the 
absolute faithfulness of God. Who would venture to 
assert that Paul, or that anybody, 1 could catch the 
trick of equivocation in such a service ? Who does 
not see that such a service must needs create true 

' According to Schmiedel, in the words St r/fuur . St' ipod tat 
ZtXewov uml TiftoBtov we ought to discover an emphatic reference, 
by way of contrast, to Judaising opponents of Paul in Corinth. 
These are said to have brought another Jesus (xi. 4), who was net 
God's iitut vlbi in Paul's sense (Rom. viii. 32), and in whom there 
was Yea and Nay — namely, the confirmation of the promises to th« 
Jews or those wht became Jews to receive them, and the refusal of 
the promises to the Gentiles as such. It needs a keen scent to 
discover this, and as the Corinthians read without a commentator it 
would probably be thrown away upon them. 


To this argument there is, for the natural man, a 
ready answer. It by no means follows, he will say, 
that because the Gospel is devoid of ambiguity or 
inconsistency, equivocation and insincerity must be 
unknown to its preachers. A man may proclaim the 
true Gospel and in his other dealings be far from a true 
man. Experience justifies this reply ; and yet it does 
not invalidate Paul's argument. That argument is 
good for the case in which it is applied. It might be 
repeated by a hypocrite, but no hypocrite could ever 
have invented it. It bears, indeed, a striking because 
an unintentional testimony to the height at which Paul 
habitually lived, and to his unqualified identification of 
himself with his apostolic calling. If a man has ten 
interests in life, more or less divergent, he may have 
as many inconsistencies in his behaviour ; but if he has 
said with St. Paul, " This one thing I do," and if the 
one thing which absorbs his very soul is an unceasing 
testimony to the truth and faithfulness of God, then it 
is utterly incredible that he should be a false and faith- 
less man. The work which claims him for its own 
with this absolute authority will seal him with its own 
greatness, its own simplicity and truth. He will not 
use levity. The things which he purposes, he will not 
purpose according to the flesh. He will not be guided 
by considerations perpetually varying, except in the 
point of being all alike selfish. He will not be a 
Yes and No man, whom nobody can trust. 

The argumentative force of the passage being admitted, 
its doctrinal import deserves attention. The Gospel — 
which is identified with God's Son, Jesus Christ — is 
here described as a mighty affirmation. It is not Yes 
and No, a message full of inconsistencies, or ambiguities, 
A proclamation the sense of which no one can ever 


be sure he has grasped. In it (ev avrw means " in 
Christ") the everlasting Yea has found place. The 
perfect tense (yeyovev) means that this grand affirmation 
has come to us, and is with us, for good and all. What 
it was and continued to be in Paul's time, it is to this 
day. It is in this positive, definite, unmistakable 
character that the strength of the Gospel lies. What 
a man cannot know, cannot seize, cannot tell, he cannot 
preach. The refutation of popular errors, even in 
theology, is not gospel ; the criticism of traditional 
theories, even about Scripture, is not gospel ; the in- 
tellectual " economy," with which a clever man in a 
dubious position uses language about the Bible or its 
doctrines which to the simple means Yes, and to the 
subtle qualifies the Yes enormously, is not gospeL 
There is no strength in any of these things. Dealing 
in them does not make character simple, sincere, 
massive, Christian. When they stamp themselves on 
the soul, the result is not one to which we could make 
the appeal which Paul makes here. If we have any 
gospel at all, it is because there are things which stand 
for us above all doubts, truths so sure that we cannot 
question them, so absolute that we cannot qualify them, 
so much our life that to tamper with them is to touch 
our very heart. Nobody has any right to preach who 
has not mighty affirmations to make concerning God's 
Son, Jesus Christ — affirmations in which there is no 
ambiguity, and which no questioning can reach. 

In the Apostle's mind a particular turn is given to 
this thought by its connexion with the Old Testament. 
In Christ, he says, the Yes has been realised ; for how 
many soever are the promises of God, in Him is the 
Yes. The mode of expression is rather peculiar, but 
the meaning is quite plain. Is there a single word of 


good, Paul asks, that God has ever spoken concerning 

man ? Then that word is reaffirmed, it is confirmed, 

it is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. It is no longer a word, 

but an actual gift to men, which they may take hold 

of and possess. Of course when Paul says "how 

many soever are the promises," he is thinking of the 

Old Testament. It was there the promises stood in 

God's name ; and hence he tells us in this passage that 

Christ is the fulfilment of the Old Testament ; in Him 

God has kept His word given to the fathers. All that 

the holy men of old were bidden to hope for, as the 

Spirit spoke through them in many parts and in many 

ways, is given to the world at last : he who has God's 

Son, Jesus Christ, has all God has promised, and all 

He can give. 

There are two opposite ways of looking at the Old 
Testament with which this apostolic teaching is incon- 
sistent, and which, by anticipation, it condemns. 

There is the opinion of those who say that God's 
promises to His people in the Old Testament have not 
been fulfilled, and never will be. That is the opinion 
held by many among the modern Jews, who have 
renounced all that was most characteristic in the religion 
of their fathers, and attenuated it into the merest 
deistical film of a creed. It is the opinion also of many 
who study the Bible as a piece of literary antiquity, 
but get to no perception of the life which is in it, or of 
the organic connexion between the Old Testament and 
the New. What the Apostle says of his countrymen 
in his own time is true of both these classes — when 
they read the Scriptures, there is a veil upon their 
hearts. The Old Testament promises have been ful- 
filled, every one of them. Let a man be taught what 
they mean, not as dead letters in an ancient scroll, but 


as present words of the living God ; and then let him 
look to Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and see whether 
there is not in Him the mighty, the perpetual con- 
firmation of them all. We smile sometimes at what 
seems the whimsical way in which the early Christians, 
who had not yet a New Testament, found Christ every- 
where in the Old ; but though it may be possible to 
err in detail in this pursuit, it is not possible to err on 
the whole. The Old Testament is gathered up, every 
living word of it, in Him ; we are misunderstanding it 
if we take it otherwise. 

The opinion just described is a species of rationalism. 
There is another opinion, which, while agreeing with 
the rationalistic one that many of God's promises in 
the Old Testament have not yet been fulfilled, believes 
that their fulfilment is still to be awaited. If one might 
do so without offence, I should call this a species of 
fanaticism. It is the error of those who take the Jewish 
nation as such to be the subject of prophecy, and hope 
for its restoration to Palestine, for a revived Jerusalem, 
a new Davidic monarchy, even a reign of Christ over 
such an earthly kingdom. All this, if we may take the 
Apostle's word for it, is beside the mark. Equally with 
rationalism it loses the spirit of God's word in the 
letter. The promises have been fulfilled already, and 
we are not to look for another fulfilment. Those who 
have seen Christ have seen all that God is going to 
do — and it is quite adequate — to make His word good. 
He who has welcomed Christ knows that not one good 
word of all that God has spoken has failed. God has 
never, by the promises of the Old Testament, or by the 
instincts of human nature, put a hope or a prayer into 
man's heart that is net answered and satisfied abundantly 
in His Son. 



But leaving the reference to the Old Testament on 
one side, it is well worth while for us to consider the 
practical meaning of the truth, that all God s 
are Yea in Christ. God's promises are His declarations 
of what He is willing to do for men ; and in the very 
nature of the case they are at once the inspiration and 
the limit of our prayers. We are encouraged to ask 
all that God promises, and we must stop there. Christ 
Himself then is the measure of prayer to man ; we can 
ask all that is in Him ; we dare not ask anything that 
lies outside of Him. How the consideration of this 
should expand our prayers in some directions, and 
contract them in others I We can ask God to give us 
Christ's purity, Christ's simplicity, Christ's meekness 
and gentleness, Christ's faithfulness and obedience, 
Christ's victory over the world. Have we ever 
measured these things ? Have we ever put them into 
our prayers with any glimmering consciousness of 
their dimensions, any sense of the vastness of our 
request ? Nay, we can ask Christ's glory, His Resur- 
rection Life of splendour and incorruption — the image 
of the heavenly. God has promised us all these things, 
and far more: but has He always promised what we 
ask? Can we fix our eyes on His Son, as He lived 
our life in this world, and remembering that this, so far 
as this world is concerned, is the measure of promise, 
ask without any qualification that our course here may 
be free from every trouble ? Had Christ no sorrow ? 
Did He never meet with ingratitude ? Was He never 
misunderstood ? Was He never hungry, thirsty, 
weary ? If all God's promises are summed up in Him 
— if He is everything that God has to give — can we 
go boldly to the throne of grace, and pray to be 
exempted from what He had to bear, or to be richly 


provided with indulgences which He never knew ? 
What if all unanswered prayers might be denned as 
prayers for things not included in the promises — prayers 
that we might get what Christ did not get, or be spared 
what He was not spared ? The spirit of this passage, 
however, does not urge so much the definiteness as 
the compass and the certainty of the promises of God. 
They are so many that Paul could never enumerate 
them, and all of them are sure in Christ. And when 
our eyes are once opened on Him, does not He Him- 
self become as it were inevitably the substance of our 
prayers ? Is not our whole heart's desire, Oh that 
I might win Him 1 Oh that He might live in me, and 
make me what He is 1 Oh that that Man might arise 
in me, that the man I am may cease to be I Do we 
not feel that if God would give us His Son, all would 
be ours that we could take or He could give ? 

It is in this mood — with the consciousness, I mean, 
that in Jesus Christ the sure promises of God are 
inconceivably rich and good — that the Apostle adds : 
"wherefore also through Him is the Amen." It is not 
easy to put a prayer into words, whether of petition or 
thanksgiving, for men are not much in the habit of 
speaking to God ; but it is easy to say Amen. That is 
the part of the Church when God's Son, Jesus Christ, 
is proclaimed, clothed in His Gospel. Apart from the 
Gospel, we do not know God, or what He will do, or 
will not do, for sinful men ; but as we listen to the 
proclamation of His mercy and His faithfulness, as our 
eyes are opened to see in His Son all He has promised 
to do for us, nay, in a sense, all He has already done, 
our grateful hearts break forth in one grand responsive 
Amen 1 So let it be 1 we cry. Unless God had first 
prompted us by sending His Son, we could never have 


found it in our hearts to present such requests to Hiui ; 
but through Christ we are enabled to present them, 
though it should be at first with only a look at Him, 
and an appropriating Amen. It is the very nature of 
prayer, indeed, to be the answer to promise. Amen is 
all, at bottom, that God leaves for us to say. 

The solemn acceptance of a mercy so great — an 
acceptance as joyful as it is solemn, since the Amen 
is one rising out of thankful hearts — redounds to the 
glory of God. This is the final cause of redemption, 
and however it may be lost sight of in theologies which 
make man their centre, it is always magnified in the New 
Testament. The Apostle rejoices that his ministry and 
that of his friends (8** fjpSfv) contributes to this glory ; 
and the whole connexion of thought in the passage 
throws a light on a great Bible word. God's glory is 
identified here with the recognition and appropriation 
by men of His goodness and faithfulness in JesuB 
Christ. He is glorified when it dawns on human souls 
that He has spoken good concerning them beyond 
their utmost imaginings, and when that good is seen to 
be indubitably safe and sure in His Son. The Amen 
in which such souls welcome His mercy is the 
equivalent of the Old Testament word, " Salvation is 
of the Lord." It is expanded in an apostolic doxology: 
" Of Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things : 
to Him be glory for ever." 



" Now He that stablisheth us with you in Christ, and anointed us, 
is God ; who also sealed us, and gave $ts the earnest of the Spirit in 
our hearts."— 2 Cor. i. 21, 22 (R.V.). 

IT is not easy to show the precise connexion 
between these words and those which immediately 
precede. Possibly it is emotional, rather than logical. 
The Apostle's heart swells as he contemplates in the 
Gospel the goodness and faithfulness of God ; and 
though his argument is complete when he has exhibited 
the Gospel in that light, his mind dwells upon it in- 
voluntarily, past the mere point of proof; he lingers 
over the wonderful experience which Christians have 
of the rich and sure mercies. Those who try to make 
out a more precise sequence of thought than this are 
not very successful. Of course it is apparent that the 
keynote of the passage is in harmony with that of 
the previous verses. The ideas of " stablishing," of 
"sealing," and of an "earnest," are all of one family; 
they are all, as it were, variations of the one mighty 
affirmation which has been made of God's promises in 
Christ. From this point of view they have an argu- 
mentative value. They suggest that God, in all sorts 
of ways, makes believers as sure of the Gospel, and 
as oonstant to it, as He has made it sure and certain 


to them; and thus they exclude more decisively than 
ever the idea that the minister of the Gospel can be a 
man of Yes and No. But though this is true, it fails 
to do justice to the word on which the emphasis falls — 
namely, God. This, according to some interpreters, is 
done, if we suppose the whole passage to be, in the 
first instance, a disclaimer of any false inference which 
might be drawn from the words, " to the glory of God 
by us." " By us," Paul writes ; for it was through the 
apostolic preaching that men were led to receive the 
Gospel, to look at God's promises, confirmed in Christ, 
with an appropriating Amen to His glory ; but he 
hastens to add that it was God Himself whose grace 
in its various workings was the beginning, middle, and 
end both of their faith and of their preaching. This 
seems to me rather artificial, and I do not think more 
than a connexion in sentiment, rather than in argument, 
can be insisted upon. 

But setting this question aside, the interpretation of 
the two verses is of much interest. They contain 
some of the most peculiar and characteristic words of 
the New Testament — words to which, it is to be feared, 
many readers attach no very distinct idea. The 
simplest plan is to take the assertions one by one, as 
if God were the subject. Grammatically this is in- 
correct, for ©go? is certainly the predicate ; but for the 
elucidation of the meaning this may be disregarded. 

(i) First of all, then, God confirms us into Christ. 
" Us," of course, means St. Paul and the preachers 
whom he associates with himself, — Silas and Timothy. 
But when he adds " with you," he includes the 
Corinthians also, and all believers. He does not claim 
for himself any stedfastness in Christ, or any trust- 
worthiness as ependent upon it, which he would on 


principle refuse to others. God, who makes His pro- 
mises sure to those who receive them, gives those who 
receive them a firm grasp of the promises. Christ is 
here, with all the wealth of grace in Him, indubitable, 
unmistakable ; and what God has done on that side, 
He does on the other also. He confirms believers into 
Christ. He makes their attachment to Christ, their 
possession of Him, a thing indubitable and irreversible. 
Salvation, to use the words of St. John, is true in Him 
and in them ; in them, so far as God's purpose and 
work go, as much as in Him. He who is confirmed 
into Christ is in principle as trustworthy, as abso- 
lutely to be depended upon, as Christ Himself. The 
same character of pure truth is common to them both. 
Christ's existence as the Saviour, in whom all God's 
promises are guaranteed, and Paul's existence as a 
saved man with a sure grasp on all these promises, are 
alike proofs that God is faithful ; the truth of God 
stands behind them both. It is to this that the appeal 
of vv. 1 5-20 is virtually made ; it is this in the long- 
run which is called in question when the trustworthi- 
ness of Paul is impeached. 

All this, it may be said, is ideal ; but in what sense 
is it so ? Not in the sense thac it is fanciful or unreal ; 
but in the sense that the divine law of our life, and the 
divine action upon our life, are represented in it. It 
is our calling as Christian people to be stedfast in 
Christ. Such stedfastness God is ever seeking to 
impart, and in striving to attain to it we ran always 
appeal to Him for help. It is the opposite of instability ; 
in a special sense it is the opposite of untrustworthiness. 
If we are letting God have His way with us in this 
respect, we are persons who can always be depended 
upon, and depended upon for conduct in keeping with 



the goodness and faithfulness of God, into which we 
have been confirmed by Him. 

(2) From this general truth, with its application to all 
believers, the Apostle passes to another of more limited 
range. By including the Corinthians with himself in 
the first clause, he virtually excludes them in the 
second — " God anointed us." It is true that the New 
Testament speaks of an anointing which is common to 
all believers — " Ye have an anointing from the Holy 
One ; ye all know " ( 1 John il 20) : but here, on the 
contrary, something special is meant. This can only 
be the consecration of Paul, and of those for whom he 
speaks, to the apostolic or evangelistic ministry. It 
is worth noticing that in the New Testament the act 
of anointing is never ascribed to any one but God. 
The only unction which qualifies for service in the 
Christian dispensation, or which confers dignity in the 
Christian community, is the unction from on high. 
" God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy 
Ghost and with power," and it is the participation in 
this great anointing which capacitates any one to work 
in the Gospel. 1 Paul undoubtedly claimed, in virtue 
of his divine call to apostleship, a peculiar authority 
in the Church ; but we cannot define any peculiarity in 
his possession of the Spirit. The great gift which 
must be held in some sense by all Christians — " for if 
any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of 
His" — was in him intensified, or specialised, for the 
work he had to do. Bat it is one Spirit in him and 
in us, and that is why we do not find the exercise of 
his authority alien or galling. It is authority divorced 

1 Observe the play on the words in /fe/fotfir elt X p to r i w and 



from " unction " — authority without this divine qualifi- 
cation — against which the Christian spirit rebels. And 
though " unction " cannot be defined ; though no 
material guarantee can be given or taken for the 
possession of the Spirit ; though a merely historical 
succession is, so far as this spiritual competence and 
dignity are concerned, a mere irrelevance ; though, as 
Vinet said, we think of unction rather when it is 
absent than when it is present, — still, the thing itself 
is recognisable enough. It bears witness to itself, as 
light does ; it carries its own authority, its own dignity, 
with it ; it is the ultima ratio, the last court of appeal, 
in the Christian community. It may be that Paul is 
preparing already, by this reference to his commission, 
for the bolder assertion of his authority at a later stage. 

(3) These two actions of God, however — the establish- 
ing of believers in Christ, which goes on continually 
(JStficuSiv), and the consecration of Paul to the apostle- 
ship, which was accomplished once for all (ypia-asi) — 
go back to prior actions, in which, again, all believers 
have an interest They have a common basis in the 
great deeds of grace in which the Christian life began. 
God, he says, is He who also sealed us, and gave the 
earnest of the Spirit in our hearts. 

" He also sealed us." It seems strange that so 
figurative a word should be used without a hint of ex- 
planation, and we must assume that it was so familiar 
in the Church that the right application could be taken 
for granted. The middle voice (<r<£/jayura/iew>?) makes 
it certain that the main idea is, " He marked us as 
His own." This is the sense in which the word is 
frequently used in the Book of Revelation : the servants 
of God are sealed on their foreheads, that they may 
be recognised as His. But what is the seal ? Under 


the Old Testament, the mark which God set upon His 
people — the covenant sign by which they were identified 
as His — was circumcision. Under the New Testament, 
where everything carnal has passed away, and religious 
materialism is abolished, the sign is no longer in the 
body ; we are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise 
(Eph. i. 13 f.). But the past tense ("He sealed us"), 
and its recurrence in Eph. i. 1 3 (" ye were sealed "), 
suggest a very definite reference of this word, and 
beyond doubt it alludes to baptism. In the New Testa- 
ment, baptism and the giving of the Holy Spirit are 
regularly connected with each other. Christians are 
born of water and of the Spirit. " Repent," is the 
earliest preaching of the Gospel (Acts ii. 38), "and be 
baptised every one of you, . . . and ye shall receive 
the gift of the Holy Ghost." In early Christian writer* 
the use of the word " seal " (vfoayk) as a technical 
term for baptism is practically universal ; and when we 
combine this practice with the New Testament usage 
in question, the inference is inevitable. God puts His 
seal upon us, He marks us as His own, when we are 
baptised. 1 

1 When we consider the New Testament use of this idea (cf. Rom. 
iv. 11 ; Rev. vii. 2ff. ; Eph. i. 13 f., and this passage), and remember 
that Paul and John can have had nothing to do with the Greek 
mysteries, it will be apparent that to adduce the ecclesiastical use of 
<F<j>pa.ylt as a proof that the conceptions current in these mysteries 
had a powerful influ nee from the earliest times on the Christiam 
conception of baptism is beside the mark. One of the earliest 
examples outside the New Testament is in the Shepherd of Hernia* 
Simil., viii. 6 : ol iriaTefoavTcs xai tl\r,<poTtt rfy <r<p P aylSa xai TedXaK&rn 
*6rip> xal ^ Ti,pi,aavT€t iyirj. This figure of breaking the seal, by 
falling into sin and losing what baptism confers, is common. Some- 
times it is varied : " Keep the flesh pure, koI rip, aQpaylSa. d«rx,\o»," 
in 2 Clem. viii. 6. This may be made to carry superstition, but there 
is nothing superstitious or unscnptural in it to begin with.] CHRISTIAN MYSTERIES Jj 

But the seal is not baptism as a ceremonial act It 
is neither immersion nor sprinkling nor any other mode 
of lustration which marks us out as God's. The seal 
by which " the Lord knoweth them that are His " 
is His Spirit ; it is the impress of His Spirit upon 
them. When that impress can be traced upon our 
souls, by Him, or by us, or by others, then we have 
the witness in ourselves ; the Spirit bears witness with 
our spirits that we are children of God. 

But of all words " spirit " is the vaguest ; and if we 
had nothing but the word itself to guide us, we should 
either lapse into superstitious ideas about the virtue 
of the sacrament, or into fanatical ideas about incom- 
municable inward experiences in which God marked 
us for His own. The New Testament provides us with 
a more excellent way than either ; it gives the word 
" spirit " a rich but definite moral content ; it compels 
us, if we say we have been sealed with the Spirit, and 
claimed by God as His, to exhibit the distinguishing 
features of those who are His. "The Lord is the 
Spirit" (2 Cor. iii. 17). To be sealed with the Spirit 
is to bear, in however imperfect a degree, in however 
inconspicuous a style, the image of the heavenly man, 
the likeness of Jesus Christ. There are many passages 
in his Epistles in which St Paul enlarges on the work 
of the Spirit in the soul ; all the various dispositions 
which it creates, all the fruits of the Spirit, may be 
conceived as different parts of the impression made 
by the seal. We must think of these in detail, if we 
wish to give the word its meaning ; we must think of 
them in contrast with the unspiritual nature, if we wish 
to give it any edge. Once, say, we walked in the lusts 
of the flesh : has Christ redeemed us, and set on our 
souls and our bodies the seal of His purity ? Once 


we were hot and passionate, given to angry words and 
hasty, intemperate deeds : are we sealed now with the 
meekness and gentleness of Jesus? Once we were 
grasping and covetous, even to the verge of dishonesty ; 
we could not let money pass us, and we could not 
part with it : have we been sealed with the liberality of 
Him who says, " It is more blessed to give than to 
receive " ? Once a wrong rankled in our hearts ; the 
sun went down upon our wrath, not once or twice, but 
a thousand times, and found it as implacable as ever : 
is that deep brand of vindictiveness effaced now, and 
in its stead imprinted deep the Cross of Christ, where 
He loved us, and gave Himself for us, and prayed, 
•' Father, forgive them " ? Once our conversation was 
corrupt ; it had a taint in it ; it startled and betrayed 
the innocent; it was vile and foolish and unseemly: 
are these things of the past now ? and has Christ 
set upon our lips the seal of His own grace and truth, 
of His own purity and love, so that every word we 
speak is good, and brings blessing to those who hear 
us? These things, and such as these, are the seal 
of the Spirit N They are Christ in us. They are the 
stamp which God sets upon men when He exhibits 
them as His own. 

The seal, however, has another use than that of 
marking and identifying property. It is a symbol of 
assurance. It is the answer to a challenge. It is 
in this sense that it is easiest to apply the figure to 
baptism. Baptism does not, indeed, carry with it the 
actual possession of all these spiritual features; it is 
not even, as an opus operatum, the implanting of them 
in the soul ; but it is a divine pledge that they are 
within our reach ; we can appeal to it as an assurance 
that God has come to us in His grace, has claimed us 


as His own, and is willing to conform us to the image 
of His Son. In this sense, it is legitimate and natural 
to call it God's seal upon His people. 

(4) Side by side with " He sealed us," the Apostle 
writes, " He gave the earnest of the Spirit in our 
hearts." After what has been said, it is obvious that 
this is another aspect of the same thing. We are 
sealed with the Spirit, and we get the earnest of the 
Spirit In other words, the Spirit is viewed in two 
characters : first, as a seal ; and then as an earnest. 
This last word has a very ancient history. It is found 
in the Book of Genesis (xxxviii. 18 : P 3 TP), an< ^ was 
carried, no doubt, by Phoenician traders, who had much 
occasion to use it, both to Greece and Italy. From 
the classical peoples it has come more or less directly 
to us. It means properly a small sum of money paid 
to clench a bargain, or to ratify an engagement. 
Where there is an earnest, there is more to follow, 
and more of essentially the same kind — that is what it 
signifies. Let us apply this now to the expression of 
St. Paul, "the earnest of the Spirit." It means, we 
must see, that in the gift of this Spirit, in that measure 
in which we now possess it, God has not given all He 
has to give. On the contrary, He has come under an 
obligation to give more : what we have now is but 
" the firstfruits of the Spirit " (Rom. viii. 23). It is 
an indication and a pledge of what is yet to be, but 
bears no proportion to it. All we can say on the 
basis of this text is, that between the present and the 
future gift — between the earnest and that which it 
guarantees — there must be some kind of congruity, 
some affinity which makes the one a natural and not 
an arbitrary reason for believing in the other. 

But the Corinthians were not limited to this text. 


They had St. Paul's general teaching in their minds to 
interpret it by ; and if we wish to know what it meant 
even for them, we must fill out this vague idea with 
what the Apostle tells us elsewhere. Thus in the 
great text in Ephesians (i. 13 f.), so often referred to, 
he speaks of the Holy Spirit with which we were 
sealed as the earnest of our inheritance. God has an 
"inheritance" in store for us. His Spirit makes us 
sons ; and if sons, then heirs ; heirs of God, joint-heirs 
with Christ. This connexion of the Spirit, sonship, 
and inheritance, is constant in St. Paul ; it is one of 
his most characteristic combinations. What then is the 
inheritance of which the Spirit is the earnest ? That 
no one can tell. " Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, 
neither have entered into the heart of man, the things 
that God hath prepared for them that love Him." But 
though we cannot tell more precisely, we can say that 
if the Spirit is the earnest of it, it must be in some 
sense a development of the Spirit ; life in an order of 
being which matches the Spirit, and for which the 
Spirit qualifies. If we say it is " glory," then we must 
remember that only Christ in us (the seal of the Spirit) 
can be the hope of glory. 

The application of this can be made very plain. 
Our whole life in this world looks to some future, 
however near or bounded it may be ; and every power 
we perfect, every capacity we acquire, every disposition 
and spirit we foster, is an earnest of something in that 
future. Here is a man who gives himself to the mastery 
of a trade. He acquires all its skill, all its methods, 
all its resources. There is nothing any tradesman can 
do that he cannot do as well or better. What is that 
the earnest of? What does it ensure, and as it were 
put into his hand by anticipation ? It is the earnest 


of constant employment, of good wages, of respect from 
fellow-workmen, perhaps of wealth. Here, again, is a 
man with the scientific spirit. He is keenly inquisitive 
about the facts and laws of the world in which we live. 
Everything is interesting to him — astronomy, physics, 
chemistry, biology, history. What is this the earnest 
of? It is the earnest, probably, of scientific achieve- 
ments of some kind, of intellectual toils and intellectual 
victories. This man will enter into the inheritance of 
science ; he will walk through the kingdoms of know- 
ledge in the length of them and the breadth of them, 
and will claim them as his own. And so it is wherever 
we choose to take our illustrations. Every spirit that 
dwells in us, and is cultivated and cherished by us, is 
an earnest, because it fits and furnishes us for some 
particular thing. God's Spirit also is an earnest of an 
inheritance which is incorruptible, undefiled, imperish- 
able : can we assure ourselves that we have anything 
in our souls which promises, because it matches with, 
an inheritance like this ? When we come to die, this 
will be a serious question. The faculties of accumula- 
tion, of mechanical skill, of scientific research, of trade 
on a great or a small scale, of agreeable social inter- 
course, of comfortable domestic life, may have been 
brought to perfection in us; but can we console 
ourselves with the thought that these have the earnest 
of immortality? Do they qualify us for, and by 
qualifying assure us of, the incorruptible kingdom? 
Or do we not see at once that a totally different equip- 
ment is needed to make men at home there, and that 
nothing can be the earnest of an eternal life of blessed- 
ness with God except that Holy Spirit with which He 
seals His own, and through which He makes them, 
even here, partakers of the divine nature? 


We cannot study these words without becoming 
conscious of the immense enlargement which the 
Christian religion has brought to the human mind, 
of the vast expansion of hope which is due to the 
Gospel, and at the same time of the moral soundness 
and sobriety with which that hope is conceived. The 
promises of God were first really apprehended in Jesus 
Christ; in Him as He lived and died and rose again 
from the dead, in Him especially as He lives in 
immortal glory, men first saw what God was able and 
willing to do for them, and they saw this in its true 
relations. They saw it under its moral and spiritual 
conditions. It was not a future unconnected with the 
present, or connected with it in an arbitrary or incal- 
culable way. It was a future which had its earnest in 
the present, a guarantee not alien to it, but akin — the 
Spirit of Christ implanted in the heart, the likeness of 
Christ sealed upon the nature. The glorious inheritance 
was the inheritance, not of strangers, but of sons ; and 
it still becomes sure as the Spirit of sonship is received, 
and fades into incredibility when that Spirit is extin- 
guished or depressed. If we could live in the Spirit 
with the completeness of Christ, or even of St. Paul, 
we should feel that we really had an earnest of immor- 
tality ; the glory of heaven would be as certain to us 
as the faithfulness of God to His promise. 


"But I call God for a witness upon my soul, that to spare yon 1 
forbare to come unto Corinth. Not that we have lordship over your 
faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand. But 1 
determined this for myself, that I would not come again to you with 
sorrow. For if I make you sorry, who then is he that maketh me 
glad, but he that is made sorry by me ? And I wrote this very thing, 
lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought 
to rejoice ; having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you 
all. For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto 
you with many tears; not that ye should be made sorry, but that 
ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you." — 
2 Con. i. 23-ii 4 (R.V.). 

WHEN Paul came to the end of the paragraph in 
which he defends himself from the charge of 
levity and untrustworthiness by appealing to the nature 
of the Gospel which he preached, he seems to have felt 
that it was hardly sufficient for his purpose. It might 
be perfectly true that the Gospel was one mighty 
affirmation, with no dubiety or inconsistency about it; 
it might be as true that it was a supreme testimony 
to the faithfulness of God ; but bad men, or suspicious 
men, would not admit that its character covered his. 
Their own insincerities would keep them from under- 
standing its power to change its loyal ministers into 
its own likeness, and to stamp them with its own 
simplicity and truth. The mere invention of the argu- 
ment in vv. 18-20 is of itself the highest possible 



testimony to the idea! height at which the Apostle 
lived ; no man conscious of duplicity could ever have 
had it occur to him. But it had the defect of being 
too good for his purpose; the foolish and the false 
could see a triumphant reply to it; and he leaves it 
for a solemn asseveration of the reason which actually 
kept him from carrying out his first intention. " I call 
God to witness against my soul, that sparing you I 
forbore to come l to Corinth." The soul is the seat of 
life ; he stakes his life, as it were, in God's sight, upon 
the truth of his words. It was not consideration for 
himself, in any selfish spirit, but consideration for them, 
which explained his change of purpose. If he had 
carried out his intention, and gone to Corinth, he would 
have had to do so, as he says in I Cor. iv, 21, with 
a rod, and this would not have been pleasant either for 
him or for them. 

This is very plain — plain even to the dullest; the 
Apostle has no sooner set it down than he feels it is 
too plain. "To spare us," he hears the Corinthians 
say to themselves as they read : " who is he that he 
should take this tone in speaking to us?" And so 
he hastens to anticipate and deprecate their touchy 
criticism : " Not that we lord it over your faith, but 
we are helpers of your joy ; as far as faith is concerned, 
your position, of course, is secure." 

This is a very interesting aside ; the digressions in 
St. Paul, as in Plato, are sometimes more attractive 
than the arguments. It shows us, for one thing, the 
freedom of the Christian faith. Those who have 

1 The R.V. " forbare to come " has the same vagueness as odxht 
Qk9or, which may mean (I) "I came not as yet " — so A,V. ; or (2) " t 
came not again "; or (3) " I came no more." 

i.*3-"-4] A PASTOR'S HEART 61 

received the Gospel have all the responsibilities of 
mature men ; they have come to their majority as 
spiritual beings ; they are not, in their character and 
standing as Christians, subject to arbitrary and irre- 
sponsible interference on the part of others. Paul 
himself was the great preacher of this spiritual eman- 
cipation : he gloried in the liberty with which Christ 
made men free. For him the days of bondage were 
over ; there was no subjection for the Christian to any 
custom or tradition of men, no enslavement of his 
conscience to the judgment or the will of others, no 
coercion of the spirit except by itself. He had great 
confidence in this Gospel and in its power to produce 
generous and beautiful characters. That it was capable 
of perversion also he knew very well. It was open 
to the infusion of self-will ; in the intoxication of 
freedom from arbitrary and unspiritual restraint, men 
might forget that the believer was bound to be a law 
to himself, that he was free, not in lawless self-will, 
but only in the Lord. Nevertheless, the principle of 
freedom was too sacred to be tampered with ; it was 
necessary both for the education of the conscience and 
for the enrichment of spiritual life with the most various 
and independent types of goodness ; and the Apostle 
took all the risks, and all the inconveniences even, 
rather than limit it in the least. 

This passage shows us one of the inconveniences. 
The newly enfranchised are mightily sensible of their 
freedom, and it is extremely difficult to tell them of 
their faults. At the very mention of authority all that 
is bad in them, as well as all that is good, is on the 
alert ; and spiritual independence and the liberty of 
the Christian people have been represented and defended 
again and again, not only by an awful sense of respon- 


sibility to Christ, which lifts the lowliest lives into 
supreme greatness, but by pride, bigotry, moral inso- 
lence, and every bad passion. What is to be done in 
such cases as these, where liberty has forgotten the 
law of Christ? It is certainly not to be denied in 
principle : Paul, even with the peculiar position of an 
apostle, and of the spiritual father of those to whom he 
writes (i Cor. iv. 15), does not claim such an authority 
over their faith — that is, over the people themselves in 
their character of believers — as a master has over his 
slaves. Their position as Christians is secure; it is 
taken for granted by him as by them ; and this being so, 
no arbitrary ipse dixit can settle anything in dispute 
between them ; he can issue no orders to the Church 
such as the Roman Emperor could issue to his soldiers. 
He may appeal to them on spiritual grounds ; he may 
enlighten their consciences by interpreting to them the 
law of Christ ; he may try to reach them by praise or 
blame ; but simple compulsion is not one of his resources. 
If St Paul says this, occupying as he does a position 
which contains in itself a natural authority which most 
ministers can never have, ought not all official persons 
and classes in the Church to beware of the claims they 
make for themselves? A clerical hierarchy, such as 
has been developed and perfected in the Church of 
Rome, does lord it over faith ; it legislates for the laity, 
both in faith and practice, without their co-operation, 
or even their consent ; it keeps the catus fidelium, the 
mass of believing men, which is the Church, in a 
perpetual minority. All this, in a so-called apostolic 
succession, is not only anti-apostolic, but anti-Christian. 
It is the confiscation of Christian freedom ; the keeping 
of believers in leading-strings all their days, lest in 
their liberty they should go astray. In the Protestant 

i.»3-"-4-] A PASTORS HEART 63 

Churches, on the other hand, the danger on the whole 
is of the opposite kind. We are too jealous of 
authority. We are too proud of our own competence. 
We are too unwilling, individually, to be taught and 
corrected. We resent, I will not say criticism, but the 
most serious and loving voice which speaks to us to 
disapprove. Now liberty, when it does not deepen the 
sense of responsibility to God and to the brotherhood 
— and it does not always do so — is an anarchic and 
disintegrating force. In all the Churches it exists, to 
some extent, in this degraded form ; and it is this which 
makes Christian education difficult, and Church dis- 
cipline often impossible. These are serious evils, and 
we can only overcome them if we cultivate the sense 
of responsibility at the same time that we maintain the 
principle of liberty, remembering that it is those only 
of whom he says, " Ye were bought with a price " (and 
are therefore Christ's slaves), to whom St. Paul also 
gives the charge : " Be not ye slaves of men." 

This passage not only illustrates the freedom of 
Christian faith, it presents us with an ideal of the 
Christian ministry. " We are not lords over your faith," 
says St. Paul, " but we are helpers of your joy." It is 
implied in this that joy is the very end and element 
of the Christian life, and that it is the minister's duty 
to be at war with all that restrains it, and to co-operate 
in all that leads to it. Here, one would say, is some- 
thing in which all can agree : all human souls long for 
joy, however much they may differ about the spheres 
of law and liberty. But have not most Christian 
people, and most Christian congregations, something 
here to accuse themselves of? Do not many of us 
bear false witness against the Gospel on this very 
point ? Who that came into most churches, and looked 


at the uninterested faces, and hearkened to the Hstlest 
singing, would feel that the soul of the religion, so 
languidly honoured, was mere joy— joy unspeakable, 
if we trust the Apostles, and full of glory? It is 
ingratitude which makes us forget this. We begin to 
grow blind to the great things which lie at the basis 
of our faith ; the love of God in Jesus Christ— that love 
in which He died for us upon the tree— begins to lose 
its newness and its wonder; we speak of it without 
apprehension and without feeling; it does not make 
our hearts burn within us any more ; we have no joy 
in it. Yet we may be sure of this — that we can have 
no joy without it. And he is our best friend, the truest 
minister of God to us, who helps us to the place where 
the love of God is poured out in our hearts in its 
omnipotence, and we renew our joy in it. In doing so, 
it may be necessary for the minister to cause pain by 
the way. There is no joy, nor any possibility of it, 
where evil is tolerated. There is no joy where sin has 
been taken under the patronage of those who call them- 
selves by Christ's name. There is no joy where pride 
is in arms in the soul, and is reinforced by suspicion, 
by obstinacy, even by jealousy and hate, all waiting to 
dispute the authority of the preacher of repentance. 
When these evil spirits are overcome, and cast out, 
which may only be after a painful conflict, joy will have 
its opportunity again, — joy, whose right it is to reign 
in the Christian soul and the Christian community. 
Of all evangelistic forces, this joy is the most potent ; 
and for that, above all other reasons, it should be 
cherished wherever Christian people wish to work the 
work of their Lord. 

After this little digression on the freedom of the 
faith, and on joy as the element of the Christian life, 

i. 33-J1.4. A PASTORS HEART 6$ 

Paul returns to his defence. " To spare you I forbore 
to come ; for I made up my own mind on this, not 
to come to you a second time in sorrow." Why was 
he so determined about this ? He explains in the 
second verse. It is because all his joy is bound up 
in the Corinthians, so that if he grieves them he has 
no one left to gladden him except those whom he has 
grieved — in other words, he has no joy at all. And 
he not only made up his mind definitely on this ; he 
wrote also in exactly this sense : he did not wish, 
when he came, to have sorrow from those from whom 
he ought to have joy. In that desire to spare himself, 
as well as them, he counted on their sympathy ; he 
was sure that his own joy was the joy of every one 
of them, and that they would appreciate his motives 
in not fulfilling a promise, the fulfilment of which in 
the circumstances would only have brought grief both 
to them and him. The delay has given them time to 
put right what was amiss in their Church, and has 
ensured a joyful time to them all when his visit is 
actually accomplished. 

There are some grammatical and historical difficulties 
lere which claim attention. The most discussed is 
that of the first verse : what is the precise meaning of 
to fir) trdkiv iv \vtttj 7T/30? vfias ikOelv ? There is no 
doubt that this is the correct order of the words, and 
just as little, I think, that the natural meaning is that 
Paul had once visited Corinth in grief, and was 
resolved not to repeat such a visit. So the words 
are taken by Meyer, Hofmann, Schmiedel, and others. 
The visit in question cannot have been that on occasion 
of which the Church was founded ; and as the con- 
nexion between this passage and the last chapter of 
the First Epistle is as close as can be conceived (see 



the Introduction), it cannot have fallen between the 
two : the only other supposition is, that it took place 
before the First Epistle was written. This is the 
opinion of Lightfoot, Meyer, and Weiss ; and it is not 
fatal to it that no such visit is mentioned elsewhere — 
e.g., in the book of Acts. Still, the interpretation is 
not essential ; and if we can get over chap. xiii. 2, it 
is quite possible to agree with Heinrici that Paul had 
only been in Corinth once, and that what he means 
in ver. I here is : "I determined not to carry out my 
purpose of revisiting you, in sorrow." 

There is a difficulty of another sort in ver. 2. One's 
first thought is to read kcu ti's 6 eucppaivcov fie k.t.X., 
as a real singular, with a reference, intelligible though 
indefinite, to the notorious but penitent sinner of 
Corinth. " I vex you, I grant it ; but where does my 
joy come from — the joy without which I am resolved 
not to visit you— except from one who is vexed by 
me?" The bad man's repentance had made Paul 
glad, and there is a worthy considerateness in this 
indefinite way of designating him. This interpretation 
has commended itself to so sound a judge as Bengel, 
and though more recent scholars reject it with practical 
unanimity, it is difficult to be sure that it is wrong. 
The alternative is to generalise- the Tt?, and make the 
question mean : " If I vex you, where can I find joy ? 
All my joy is in you, and to see you grieved leaves me 
absolutely joyless." 

A third difficulty is the reference of eypa^ra tovto 
avTo in ver. 3. Language very similar is found in 
ver. 9 (eh tovto yap icai eypa-^ra), and again in chap, 
vii 8-12 (£kvTrr]o~a vfiat iv Ty e7rto-To\fj). It is very 
natural to think here of our First Epistle. It served 
the purpose contemplated by the letter here described ; 

i.S3-i'-4] A PASTORS HEART 67 

it told of Paul's change of purpose ; it warned the 
Corinthians to rectify what was amiss, and so to order 
their affairs that he might come, not with a rod, but 
in love and in the spirit of meekness ; or, as he says 
here, not to have sorrow, but, what he was entitled 
to, joy from his visit. All that is alleged against this 
is that our First Epistle does not suit the description 
given of the writing in ver. 4 : " out of much affliction 
and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many 
tears." But when those parts of the First Epistle are 
read, in which St. Paul is not answering questions 
submitted to him by the Church, but writing out of 
his heart upon its spiritual condition, this will appear 
a dubious assertion. What a pain must have been 
at his heart, when such passionate words broke from 
him as these : " Is Christ divided ? Was Paul 
crucified for you ? — What is Apollos, and what is 
Paul ? — With me it is a very little thing to be judged 
by you. — Though ye have ten thousand instructors in 
Christ, yet have ye not many fathers : for in Christ 
Jesus I begot you through the Gospel. — I will know, 
not the speech of them that are puffed up, but the 
power." Not to speak of the fifth and sixth chapters, 
words like these justify us in supposing that the First 
Epistle may be, and in all probability is, meant. 1 

Putting these details aside, as of mainly historical 
interest, let us look rather at the spirit of this passage. 
It reveals, more clearly perhaps than any passage in 

1 To suppose the reference to be to an epistle carried by Titus 
and now lost, is to suppose what is incapable of proof or disproof. 
To take typa<j/a as "epistolary" aorist, and translate "1 write," is 
grammatically, but only grammatically, possible. The supposed 
reference to chaps, x. I — xiii. 10 as a separate epistle is noticed ia 
the Introduction. 


the New Testament, the essential qualification of the 
Christian minister — a heart pledged to his brethren in 
the love of Christ. That is the only possible basis of 
an authority which can plead its own and its Master's 
cause against the aberrations of spiritual liberty, and 
there is always both room and need for it in the Church. 
Certainly it is the hardest of all authorities to win, and 
the costliest to maintain, and therefore substitutes for 
it are innumerable. The poorest are those that are 
merely official, where a minister appeals to his standing 
as a member of a separate order, and expects men to 
reverence that. If this was once possible in Christen- 
dom, if it is still possible where men secretly wish 
to shunt their spiritual responsibilities upon others, it 
is not possible where emancipation has been grasped 
either in an anarchic or in a Christian spirit. Let the 
great idea of liberty, and of all that is cognate with 
liberty, once dawn upon their souls, and men will 
never sink again to the recognition of anything as an 
authority that does not attest itself in a purely spiritual 
way. u Orders " will mean nothing to them but an 
arrogant unreality, which in the name of all that is 
free and Christian they are bound to contemn. It will 
be the same, too, with any authority which has merely 
an intellectual basis. A professional education, even 
in theology, gives no man authority to meddle with 
another in his character as a Christian. The Uni- 
versity and the Divinity Schools can confer no com- 
petence here. Nothing that distinguishes a man from 
his fellows, nothing in virtue of which he takes a place 
of superiority apart : on the contrary, that love only 
which makes him entirely one with them in Jesus 
Christ, can ever entitle him to interpose. If their joy 
is his joy ; if to grieve them, even for their good, is his 

i. 23-ii. 4.3 A PASTORS HEART 69 

grief; if the cloud and sunshine of their lives cast their 
darkness and their light immediately upon him ; if he 
shrinks from the faintest approach to self-assertion, yet 
would sacrifice anything to perfect their joy in the 
Lord, — then he is in the true apostolical succession ; and 
whatever authority may rightly be exercised, where 
the freedom of the spirit is the law, may rightly be 
exercised by him. What is required of Christian 
workers in every degree — of ministers and teachers, 
of parents and friends, of all Christian people with the 
cause of Christ at heart — is a greater expenditure of 
soul on their work. Here is a whole paragraph of 
St. Paul, made up almost entirely of "grief" and 
"joy"; what depth of feeling lies behind itl If this 
is alien to us in our work for Christ, we need not 
wonder that our work does not tell. 

And if this is true generally, it is especially true 
when the work we have to do is that of rebuking sin. 
There are few things which try men, and show what 
spirit they are of, more searchingly than this. We like 
to be on God's side, and to show our zeal for Him, 
and we are far too ready to put all our bad passions 
at His service. But these are a gift which He declines. 
Our wrath does not work His righteousness — a lesson 
that even good men, of a kind, are very slow to learn. 
To denounce sin, and to declaim about it, is the easiest 
and cheapest thing in the world : one could not do less 
where sin is concerned, unless he did nothing at all. 
Yet how common denunciation is. It seems almost to 
be taken for granted as the natural and praiseworthy 
mode of dealing with evil. People assail the faults of 
the community, or even of their brethren in the Church, 
with violence, with temper, with the tone, often, of 
injured innocence. They think that when they do so 


they pre doing God service ; but surely we should 
have le rned by this time that nothing could be so 
unlike God, so unfaithful and preposterous as a testi- 
mony for Him. God Himself overcomes evil with 
good ; Christ vanquishes the sin of the world by taking 
the burden of it on Himself; and if we wish to have 
part in the same work, there is only the same method 
open to us. Depend upon it, we shall not make others 
weep for that for which we have not wept ; we shall 
not make that touch the hearts of others which has 
not first touched our own. That is the law which God 
has established in the world ; He submitted to it Him- 
self in the person of His Son, and He requires us to 
submit to it. Paul was certainly a very fiery man ; he 
could explode, or flame up, with far more effect than 
most people ; yet it was not there that his great strength 
lay. It was in the passionate tenderness that checked 
that vehement temper, and made the once haughty 
spirit say what he says here : " Out of much affliction 
and anguish of heart, I wrote unto you with many 
tears, not that you might be grieved, but that you 
might know the love which I have more abundantly 
toward you." In words like these the very spirit 
speaks which is God's power to subdue and save the 

It is worth dwelling upon this, because it is so 
fundamental, and yet so slowly learned. Even Christian 
ministers, who ought to know the mind of Christ, 
almost universally, at least in the beginning of their 
work, when they preach about evil, lapse into the 
scolding tone. It is of no use whatever in the pulpit, 
and of just as little in the Sunday-school class, in the 
home, or in any relation in which we seek to exercise 
moral authority. The one basis for that authority is 

123-H.4-] A PASTORS HEART 71 

■ ■ ■ 1 .■ 1 ■ ■ 1 ■ 1 - — ■ ■ .1 ■ — — .i ^. i .i 1 ■ 11 

love ; and the characteristic of love in the presence of 
evil is not that it becomes angry, or insolent, or dis- 
dainful, but that it takes the burden and the shame of 
the evil to itself. The hard, proud heart is impotent j 
the mere official is impotent, whether he call himself 
priest or pastor ; all hope and help lie in those who 
have learned of the Lamb of God who bore the sin of 
the world. It is soul-travail like His, attesting love 
like His, that wins all the victories in which He can 



"But if any hath caused sorrow, he hath caused sorrow, not to me, 
but In part (that I press not too heavily) to you all. Sufficient to 
such a one is this punishment which was inflicted by the many; so 
that contrariwise ye should rather forgive him and comfort him, lest 
by any means such a one should be swallowed up with his overmuch 
sorrow. Wherefore I beseech you to confirm your love toward him. 
For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, 
whether ye are obedient in all things. But to whom ye forgive 
anything, I forgive also: for what I also have forgiven, if I have 
forgiven anything, for your sakes have I forgiven it in the person 
of Christ; that no advantage may be gained over us by Satan: for 
we are not ignorant of his devices." — 2 Cor. ii. 5-1 1 (R.V.). 

THE foregoing paragraph of the Epistle has said 
a great deal about sorrow, the sorrow felt by 
St. Paul on the one hand, and the sorrow he was 
reluctant to cause the Corinthians on the other. In 
the passage before us reference is evidently made to 
the person who was ultimately responsible for all this 
trouble. If much in it is indefinite to us, and only 
leaves a doubtful impression, it was clear enough for 
those to whom it was originally addressed; and that 
very indefiniteness has its lesson. There are some 
things to which it is sufficient, and more than sufficient, 
to allude; least said is best said. And even when 
plain-speaking has been indispensable, a stage arrives 
at which there is no more to be gained by it ; if the 
subject must be referred to, the utmost generality of 



reference is best. Here the Apostle discusses the case 
of a person who had done something extremely bad ; 
but with the sinner's repentance assured, it is both 
characteristic and worthy of him that neither here 
nor in chap. vii. does he mention the name either of 
offender or offence. It is perhaps too much to expect 
students of his writings, who wish to trace out in detail 
all the events of his life, and to give the utmost possible 
definiteness to all its situations, to be content with this 
obscurity; but students of his spirit — Christian people 
reading the Bible for practical profit— do not need to 
perplex themselves as to this penitent man's identity. 
He may have been the person mentioned in I Cor. v. 
who had married his stepmother; he may have been 
some one who had been guilty of a personal insult to 
the Apostle : the main point is that he was a sinner 
whom the discipline of the Church had saved. 1 

The Apostle had been expressing himself about his 
sorrow with great vehemence, and he is careful in his 
very first words to make it plain that the offence which 
had caused such sorrow was no personal matter. It 
concerned the Church as well as him. " If any one 
hath caused sorrow, he hath not caused sorrow to me, 
but in part to you all." To say more than this would 
be to exaggerate (eTrifiapelv).* The Church, in point 
of fact, had not been moved either as universally or as 

1 On the identity of the person referred to, see Introduction, p. 2 f. 

* This meaning of {Ti^upciv, taken as intransitive, is rather vague, 
but I believe substantially correct. If the word is to be taken as 
virtually transitive, the object must be the partisans of the offender. 
It would "bear hardly" on them, to assume that they had been 
grieved by what Paul considered an offence. They had not been 
grieved. That is why he excludes them from rirras fy*S» by 4s-4 


profoundly as it should have been by the offence of this 
wicked man. The penalty imposed upon him, whatever 
it may have been, had not been imposed by a unanimous 
vote, but only by a majority; there were some who 
sympathised with him, and would have been less 
severe. 1 Still, it had brought conviction of his sin 
to the offender; he could not brazen it out against 
such consenting condemnation as there was ; he was 
overwhelmed with penitential grief. This is why the 
Apostle says, " Sufficient to such a one is this punish- 
ment which was inflicted by the majority." It has 
served the purpose of all disciplinary treatment ; and 
having done so, must now be superseded by an opposite 
line of action. " Contrariwise ye should rather forgive 
him and comfort him, lest by any means such a one 
should be swallowed up with his overmuch sorrow." 
In St. Paul's sentence " such a one " comes last, with the 
emphasis of compassion upon it. He had been " such 
a one," to begin with, as it was a pain and a shame 
even to think about ; he is " such a one," now, as the 
angels in heaven are rejoicing over; "such a one" 
as the Apostle, having the spirit of Him who received 
sinners, regards with profoundest pity and yearning; 
" such a one " as the Church ought to meet with 
pardoning and restoring love, lest grief sink into 
despair, and the sinner cut himself off from hope. 
To prevent such a deplorable result, the Corinthians 
are by some formal action (jcvpSiaat'. cf. Gal. iii. 15) 

1 This suits with either idea as to the identity of the man. (i) If 
he were the incestuous person of I Cor. v., the minority would 
consist of those who abused the Christian idea of liberty, and were 
"puffed up" (I Cor. v. 2) over this sin as an illustration of it. (2) If 
he were one who had personally insulted Paul, the minority would 
probably consist of the Judaistic opponents of the Apostle. 


to forgive him, and receive him again as a brother; 
and in their forgiveness and welcome he is to find the 
pledge of the great love of God. 

This whole passage is of interest from the light which 
it throws upon the discipline of the Church ; or, to use 
less technical and more correct language, the Christian 
treatment of the erring. 

It shows us, for one thing, the aim of all discipline : 
it is, in the last resort, the restoration of the fallen. 
The Church has, of course, an interest of its own to 
guard ; it is bound to protest against all that is incon- 
sistent with its character ; it is bound to expel scandals. 
But the Church's protest, its condemnation, its excom- 
munication even, are not ends in themselves ; they 
are means to that which is really an end in itself, a 
priceless good which justifies every extreme of moral 
severity, the winning again of the sinner through 
repentance. The judgment of the Church is the instru- 
ment of God's love, and the moment it is accepted in 
the sinful soul it begins to work as a redemptive force. 
The humiliation it inflicts is that which God exa!ts ; 
the sorrow, that which He comforts. But when a 
scandal comes to light in a Christian congregation — 
when one of its members is discovered in a fault gross, 
palpable, and offensive — what is the significance of that 
movement of feeling which inevitably takes place ? 
In how many has it the character of goodness and of 
severity, of condemnation and of compassion, of love 
and fear, of pity and shame, the only character that 
has any virtue in it to tell for the sinner's recovery ? 
If you ask nine people out of ten what a scandal is, they 
will tell you it is something which makes talk ; and 
the talk in nine cases out of ten will be malignant, 
affected, more interesting to the talkers than any story 


of virtue or piety — scandal itself, in short, far more 
truly than its theme. Does anybody imagine that 
gossip is cne of the forces that waken conscience, and 
work for the redemption of our fallen brethren? If 
this is all we can do, in the name of all that is Chris- 
tian let us keep silence. Every word spoken about a 
brother's sin, that is not prompted by a Christian 
conscience, that does not vibrate with the love of a 
Christian heart, is itself a sin against the mercy and 
the judgment of Christ. 

We see here not only the end of Church discipline, 
but the force of which it disposes for the attainment of 
its end. That force is neither more nor less than the 
conscience of the Christian people who constitute the 
Church : discipline is, in principle, the reaction of that 
force against all immorality. In special cases, forms 
may be necessary for its exercise, and in the forms in 
which it is exercised variations may be found expedient, 
according to time, place, or degree of moral progress ; 
the congregation as a body, or a representative com- 
mittee of it, or its ordained ministers, may be its most 
suitable executors ; but that on which all alike have 
to depend for making their proceedings effective to 
any Christian intent is the vigour of Christian con- 
science, and the intensity of Christian love, in the 
community as a whole. Where these are wanting, 
or exist only in an insignificant degree, disciplinary 
proceedings are reduced to a mere form ; they are 
legal, not evangelical ; and to be legal in such matters 
is not only hypocritical, but insolent. Instead of 
rendering a real Christian service to offenders, which 
by awakening conscience will lead to penitence and 
restoration, discipline under such conditions is equally 
cruel and unjust. 


It is plain also, from the nature of the force which 
it employs, that discipline is a function of the Church 
which is in incessant exercise, and is not called into 
action only on special occasions. To limit it to what 
are technically known as cases of discipline — the formal 
treatment of offenders by a Church court, or by any 
person or persons acting in an official character — is to 
ignore its real nature, and to give its exercise in these 
cases a significance to which it has no claim. The 
offences against the Christian standard which can be 
legally impeached even in Church courts are not one 
in ten thousand of those against which the Christian 
conscience ought energetically to protest ; and it is the 
vigour with which the ceaseless reaction against evil in 
every shape is instinctively maintained which measures 
the effectiveness of all formal proceedings, and makes 
them means of grace to the guilty. The offiicals of a 
Church may deal in their official place with offences 
against soberness, purity, or honesty ; they are bound 
to deal with them, whether they like it or not ; but 
their success will depend upon the completeness with 
which they, and those whom they represent, have 
renounced not only the vices which they are judging, 
but all that is out of keeping with the mind and spirit 
of Christ. The drunkard, the sensualist, the thief, 
know perfectly well that drunkenness, sensuality, and 
theft are not the only sins which mar the soul. They 
know that there are other vices, just as real if not so 
glaring, which are equally fatal to the life of Christ in 
man, and as completely disqualify men for acting in 
Christ's name. They are conscious that it is not a 
bona fide transaction when their sins are impeached by 
men whose consciences endure with equanimity the 
reign of meanness, duplicity, pride, hypocrisy, self- 


complacency. They are aware that God is not present 
where these are dominant, and that God's power to 
judge and save can never come through such channels. 
Hence the exercise of discipline in these legal forms 
is often resented, and often ineffective ; and instead 
of complaining about what is obviously inevitable, the 
one thing at which all should aim who wish to protect 
the Church from scandals is to cultivate the common 
conscience, and bring it to such a degree of purity and 
vigour, that its spontaneous resentment of evil will 
enable the Church practically to dispense with legal 
forms. This Christian community at Corinth had a 
thousand faults; in many points we are tempted to 
find in it rather a warning than an example ; but I 
think we may take this as a signal proof that it was 
really sound at heart : its condemnation of this guilty 
man fell upon his conscience as the sentence of God, 
and brought him in tears to the feet of Christ. No 
legal proceedings could have done that : nothing could 
have done it but a real and passionate sympathy with 
the holiness and the love of Christ. Such sympathy 
is the one subduing, reconciling, redeeming power in 
our hands ; and Paul might well rejoice, after all his 
affliction and anguish of heart, when he found it so 
unmistakably at work in Corinth. Not so much formal 
as instinctive, though not shrinking on occasion from 
formal proceedings; not malignant, yet closing itself 
inexorably against evil ; not indulgent to badness, but 
with goodness like Christ's, waiting to be gracious,— this 
Christian virtue really holds the keys of the kingdom 
of heaven, and opens and shuts with the authority of 
Christ Himself. We need it in all our Churches to-day, 
as much as it was needed in Corinth ; we need it that 
special acts of discipline may be effective ; we need it 


still more that they may be unnecessary. Pray for it 
as for a gift that comprehends every other — the power 
to represent Christ, and work His work, in the recovery 
and restoration of the fallen. 

In w. 9-1 1, the same subject is continued, but with 
a slightly different aspect exposed. Paul had obviously 
taken the initiative in this matter, though the bulk of 
the Church, at his prompting, had acted in a right 
spirit. Their conduct was in harmony with his motive 
in writing to them, 1 which had really been to make 
proof of their obedience in all points. But he has 
already disclaimed either the right or the wish to lord 
it over them in their liberty as believers ; and here, 
again, he represents himself rather as following them 
in their treatment of the offender, than as pointing out 
the way. " Now to whom ye forgive anything, I also 
forgive " — so great is my confidence in you : "for 
what I also have forgiven, if I have forgiven any- 
thing, for your sakes have I forgiven it in the presence 
of Christ." When he says " if I have forgiven any- 
thing," he does not mean that his forgiveness is 
dubious, or in suspense ; what he does is to deprecate 
the thought that his forgiveness is the main thing, 
or that he had been the person principally offended. 
When he says "for your sakes have I forgiven it," 
the words are explained by what follows : to have 
refused his forgiveness in the circumstances would 
have been to perpetuate a state of matters which could 
only have injured the Church. When he adds that 
his forgiveness is bestowed " in the presence of 
Christ," he gives the assurance that it is no com- 
plaisance or formality, but a real acceptance of the 

' This is the force of the koX before fypa\pa in ver. 9. 


offender to peace and friendship again. 1 And we 
should not overlook the fact that in this association of 
Christ, of the Corinthians, and of himself, in the work 
of forgiveness and restoration, Paul is really encom- 
passing a desponding soul with all the grace of earth 
md heaven. Surely he will not let his grief become 
lespair, when all around him and above him there is 
t present and convincing witness that, though God is 
tolerant of sin, He is the refuge of the penitent. 

The gracious and conciliatory tone of these verses 
>eems to me worthy of special admiration; and I can 
only express my astonishment that to some they have 
appeared insincere, a vain attempt to cover a defeat 
with the semblance of victory, a surrender to the 
opposition at Corinth, the painfulness of which is ill- 
disguised by the pretence of agreement with them. 
The exposition just given renders the refutation of 
such a view unnecessary. We ought rather to regard 
with reverence and affection the man who knew how 
to combine, so strikingly, unflinching principle and 
the deepest tenderness and consideration for others ; 
we ought to propose his modesty, his sensitiveness to 
the feelings even of opponents, his sympathy with those 
who had 120 sympathy with him, as examples for our 
imitation. Fvi! had been deeply moved by what had 

1 In spite 0/ tho Vuigate, which has in persona Christi; of Luther, 
who gives an Chtn>H dtatt; and of the English versions, Authorised 
and Revised, which boxh give "in the person of Christ" (though the 
R.V. puts presence iii vh^ margin), there seems no room to doubt that 
"in the presence of Cur .St' is the true meaning. The same words in 
chap. iv. 6 are admittedly oiu'erent in import ; and in the only passage* 
where i» rpoadirry occurs v^Kfl a genitive, it means " in presence of." 
These are Prov. viii. 30, wne.e Iv irpov&irip airov is = VJD? ; and Sir. 
cxxii. 6, where " Thou shalt uot appear be/ore the Lord empty " is ir x. 


taken place at Corinth, possibly he had been deeply 
injured ; but even so his personal interest is kept in 
the background ; for the obedient loyalty which he 
wishes to prove is not so much his interest as theirs 
to whom he writes. He cares only for others. He 
cares for the poor soul who has forfeited his place 
in the community ; he cares for the good name of the 
Church ; he cares for the honour of Jesus Christ ; and 
he exerts all his power with these interests in view. 
If it needs rigour, he can be rigorous ; if it needs 
passion, he can be passionate ; if it needs consideration, 
graciousness, a conciliatory temper, a willingness to 
keep out of sight, he can be depended upon for all 
these virtues. If they were only affected, Paul would 
deserve the praise of a great diplomatist ; but it is far 
easier to believe them real, and see in them the signs 
of a great minister of Christ. 

The last verse puts the aim of his proceedings in 
another light : all this, he says, I do, " that no advantage 
may be gained over us by Satan : for we are not 
ignorant of his devices." The important words in the 
last clause are of the same root ; it is as if Paul had 
said : " Satan is very knowing, and is always on the alert 
to get the better of us ; but we are not without know- 
ledge of his knowing ways." It was the Apostle's 
acquaintance with the wiles of the devil which made 
him eager to see the restoration of the penitent sinner 
duly carried through. This implies one or two 
practical truths, with which, by way of application, this 
exposition may close. 

(i) A scandal in the Church gives the devil an 
opportunity. When one who has named the name of 
Jesus, and vowed loyal obedience to Him, falls into 
open sin, it is a chance offered to the enemy which he 




is not slow to improve. He uses it to discredit the 
very name of Christ : to turn that which ought to be 
to the world the symbol of the purest goodness into 
a synonym of hypocrisy. Christ has committed His 
honour, if not His character, to our keeping ; and every 
lapse into vice gives Satan an advantage over Him. 

(2) The devil finds his gain in the incompetence of 
the Church to deal with evil in the Spirit of Christ 
It is a fine thing for him if he can drive the convicted 
sinner to despair, and persuade him that there is no 
more forgiveness with God. It is a fine thing if he 
can prompt those who love little, because they know 
little of God's love, to show themselves rigid, implacable, 
irreconcilable, even to the penitent. If he can deform 
the likeness of Christ into a morose Pharisaism, what 
an incalculable gain it is 1 If the disciples of Him 
who received sinners look askance on those who have 
lapsed, and chill the hope of restoration with cold 
suspicion and reserve, there will be joy over it, not in 
heaven, but in hell. And not only this, but the opposite 
is a device of the devil, of which we ought not to be 
ignorant. There is hardly a sin that some one has 
not an interest in extenuating. Even the incestuous 
person in Corinth had his defenders : there were some 
who were puffed up, and gloried in what he had done 
as an assertion of Christian liberty. The devil takes 
advantage of the scandals that occur in the Church to 
bribe and debauch men's consciences ; indulgent words 
are spoken, which are not the voice of Christ's awful 
mercy, but of a miserable self-pity ; the strongest and 
holiest thing in the world, the redeeming love of God, 
is adulterated and even confounded with the weakest 
and basest thing, the bad man's immoral forgiveness 
of himself. And not to mention anything else under 


this head, cou!d any one imagine what would please 
and suit the devil better than the absolutely unfeeling 
but extremely interesting gossip which resounds over 
every exposure of sin ? 

(3) But, lastly, the devil finds his advantage in the 
dissensions of Christians. What an opportunity he 
would have had in Corinth, had strained relations 
continued between the Apostle and the Church 1 What 
opportunities he has everywhere, when tempers are on 
edge, and every movement means friction, and every 
proposal rouses suspicion I The last prayer Christ 
prayed for His Church was that they might all be one : 
to be one in Him is the final security against the 
devices of Satan. What a frightful commentary the 
history of the Church is on this prayer I What fright- 
ful illustrations it furnishes of the devil's gain out o\ 
the saints' quarrels 1 There are plenty of subjects, of 
course, even in Church life, on which we may naturally 
and legitimately differ ; but we ought to know better 
than to let the differences enter into our souls. At 
bottom, we should be all one ; it is giving ourselves 
away to the enemy, if we do not, at all costs, " keep the 
unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." 



"Now when I came to Troas for the Gospel of Christ, and whe» 
* door was opened unto me in the Lord, I had no relief for my spirit 
because I found not Titus my brother: but taking my leave of them, 
I went forth into Macedonia. But thanks be unto God, which always 
leadeth us in triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest through us the 
savour of His knowledge in every place. For we are a sweet savoui 
of Christ unto God, in them that are being saved, and in them that 
are perishing ; to the one a savour from death unto death ; to the 
other a savour from life unto life. And who is sufficient for these 
things ? For we are not as the many, corrupting the Word of God ■ 
but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God, speak we }« 
Christ."— 2 Cor. ii. 12-17 (R.V.). 

IN this passage the Apostle returns from what is 
virtually, if not formally, a digression, to the narra- 
tive which begins in chap. i. 8 f., and is continued in 
i. 15 f. At the same time he makes a transition to a 
new subject, really though not very explicitly connected 
with what goes before — namely, his independent and 
divinely granted authority as an apostle. In the last 
verses of chap, ii., and in chap. iii. 1-4, this is treated 
generally, but with reference in particular to the success 
of his ministry. He then goes on to contrast the oldei 
and the Christian dispensation, and the character ol 
their respective ministries, and terminates the section 
with a noble statement of the spirit and principles witb 
which he fulfilled his apostolic calling (chap. iv. 1-6). 
Before leaving Ephesus, Paul had apparently mad* 


ii. 12-1?.] CHRIST'S CAPTIVE 85 

an appointment to meet Titus, on his return from 
Corinth, at Troas. He went thither himself to preach 
the Gospel, and found an excellent opportunity for 
doing so ; but the non-arrival of his brother kept him 
in such a state of unrest l that he was unable to make 
that use of it which he would otherwise have done. 
This seems a singular confession, but there is no 
reason to suppose that it was made with a bad con- 
science. Paul was probably grieved that he had not 
the heart to go in at the door which had been opened 
to him in the Lord, but he did not feel guilty. It was 
not selfishness which made him turn away, but the 
anxiety of a true pastor about other souls which God 
had committed to his care. " I had no relief for my 
spirit" he says ; and the spirit, in his language, even 
though it be a constituent of man's nature, is that in 
him which is akin to the divine, and receptive of it. 
That very element in the Apostle, in virtue of which 
he could act for God at all, was already preoccupied, 
and though the people were there, ready to be evan- 
gelised, it was beyond his power to evangelise them. 
His spirit was absorbed and possessed by hopes and 
fears and prayers for the Corinthians; and as the 
human spirit, even when in contact with the divine, 
is finite, and only capable of so much and no more, 
he was obliged to let slip an occasion which he would 
otherwise have gladly seized. He probably felt with 
all missionaries that it is as important to secure as to 
win converts ; and if the Corinthians were capable of 
reflection, they might reflect with shame on the loss 
which their sin had entailed on the people of Troas. 

1 The perfect toxtza- seems at first sight out of place, but it is more 
expressive than the aorist. It suggests the continuous expectation of 
relief, which was always anew disappointed. 


The disorders of their wilful community had engrossed 
the Apostle's spirit, and robhed their fellow-men across 
the sea of an apostolic ministry. They could not but 
feel how genuine was the Apostle's love-, when he had 
made such a sacrifice to it ; but such a sacrifice ought 
never to have been required. 

When Paul could bear the suspense no longer, he 
said good-bye to the people of Troas, crossed the 
Thracian Sea, and advanced into Macedonia to meet 
Titus. He did meet him, and heard from him a full 
report of the state of matters at Corinth (chap. vii. 5 ff.) ; 
but here he does not take time to say so. He breaks 
out into a jubilant thanksgiving, occasioned primarily 
no doubt by the joyful tidings he had just received, 
but widening characteristically, and instantaneously, to 
cover all his apostolic work. It is as though he felt 
God's goodness to him to be all of a piece, and could 
not be sensitive to it in any particular instance without 
having the consciousness rise within him that he lived 
and moved and had his being in it. " Now to God be 
thanks, who always leadeth us in triumph in Christ." 

The peculiar and difficult word in this thanksgiving 
is 0pia/j,fievovTi. The sense which first strikes one 
as suitable is that which is given in the Authorised 
Version : " God which always causeth us to triumph" 
Practically Paul had been engaged in a conflict with 
the Corinthians, and for a time it had seemed not 
improbable that he might be beaten ; but God had 
caused him to triumph in Christ — that is, acting in 
Christ's interests, in matters in which Christ's name 
and honour were at stake, the victory (as always) had 
remained with him ; and for this he thanks God. 
This interpretation is still maintained by so excellent 
a scholar as Schmiedel, and the use of dpiafifteveiv in 


this transitive sense is defended by the analogy of 
fta9r)Teveiv in Matt, xxviii. 19. 

But appropriate as this interpretation is, there is 
one apparently fatal objection to it. There is no 
doubt that $piafi/3evetv is here used transitively, but 
we have not to guess, by analogy, what it must mean 
when so used ; there are other examples which fix 
this unambiguously. One is found elsewhere in St 
Paul himself (Col. ii. 15), where dpiafiffetKra*; avroiri 
indubitably means " having triumphed over them." In 
accordance with this, which is only one out of many 
instances, 1 the Revisers have displaced the old rendering 
here, and substituted for it, " Thanks be to God, which 
always leadeth us in triumph." The triumph here is 
God's, not the Apostle's ; Paul is not the soldier who 
wins the battle, and shouts for victory, as he marches 
in the triumphal procession ; he is the captive who is 
led in the Conqueror's train, and in whom men see 
the trophy of the Conqueror's power. When he says 
that God always leads him in triumph in Christ, the 
meaning is not perfectly obvious. He may intend to 
define, as it were, the area over which God's victory 
extends. In everything which is covered by the name 
and authority of Christ, God triumphantly asserts His 
power over the Apostle. Or, again, the words may 
signify that it is through Christ that God's victorious 
power is put forth. These two meanings, of course, 
are not inconsistent ; and practically they coincide. 

It cannot be denied, I think, if this is taken quite 
rigorously, that there is a certain air of irrelevance 
about it. It does not seem to be to the purpose of 
the passage to say that God always triumphs over 

1 See Grimm's Lexicon s.v., or Lightfoot on Col. ii. 15, 


Paul and those for whom He speaks, or even that He 
always leads them in triumph. It is this feeling, 
indeed, which mainly influences those who keep to 
the rendering of the Authorised Version, and regard 
Paul as the victor. But the meaning of Opiapfievovri 
is not really open to doubt, and the semblance of 
irrelevance disappears if we remember that we are 
dealing with a figure, and a figure which the Apostle 
himself does not press. Of course in an ordinary 
triumph, such as the triumph of Claudius over Carac- 
tacus, of which St. Paul may easily have heard, the 
captives had no share in the victory ; it was not only 
a victory over them, but a victory against them. But 
when God wins a victory over man, and leads his 
captive in triumph, the captive too has an interest in 
what happens ; it is the beginning of all triumphs, in 
any true sense, for him. If we apply this to the case 
before us, we shall see that the true meaning is not 
irrelevant. Paul had once been the enemy of God 
in Christ; he had fought against Him in his own 
soul, and in the Church which he persecuted and 
wasted. The battle had been long and strong; but 
not far from Damascus it had terminated in a decisive 
victory for God. There the mighty man fell, and the 
weapons of his warfare perished. His pride, his self- 
righteousness, his sense of superiority to others and 
of competence to attain to the righteousness of God, 
collapsed for ever, and he rose from the earth to be 
the slave of Jesus Christ. That was the beginning 
of God's triumph over him ; from that hour God led 
him in triumph in Christ. But it was the beginning 
also of all that made the Apostle's life itself a triumph, 
not a career of hopeless internal strife, such as it had 
been, but of unbroken Christian victory. This, indeed, 

H.ia-17-] CHRIST S CAPTIVE 89 

is not involved in the mere word OpiapfievovTi, but it 
is the real thing which was present to the Apostle's 
mind when he used the word. When we recognise 
this, we see that the charge of irrelevance does not 
really apply ; while nothing could be more character- 
istic of the Apostle than to hide himself and his success 
in this way behind God's triumph over him and through 

Further, the true meaning of the word, and the 
true connexion of ideas just explained, remind us that 
the only triumphs we can ever have, deserving the 
name, must begin with God's triumph over us. This 
is the one possible source of joy untroubled. We 
may be as selfish as we please, and as successful in 
our selfishness; we may distance all our rivals in the 
race for the world's prizes ; we may appropriate and 
engross pleasure, wealth, knowledge, influence ; and 
after all there will be one thing we must do without — 
the power and the happiness of thanking God. No 
one will ever be able to thank God because he has 
succeeded in pleasing himself, be the mode of his 
self-pleasing as respectable as you will ; and he who 
has not thanked God with a whole heart, without 
misgiving and without reserve, does not know what 
joy is. Such thanksgiving and its joy have one 
condition : they rise up spontaneously in the soul 
when it allows God to triumph over it. When God 
appears to us in Jesus Christ, when in the omnipotence 
of His love and purity and truth He makes war upon 
our pride and falsehood and lusts, and prevails against 
them, and brings us low, then we are admitted to the 
secret of this apparently perplexing passage ; we know 
how natural it is to cry, " Thanks be unto God who in 
His victory over us giveth us the victory 1 Thanks 


be to Him who always leadeth us in triumph l" It 
is out of an experience like this that Paul speaks ; it 
is the key to his whole life, and it has been illustrated 
anew by what has just happened at Corinth. 

But to return to the Epistle. God is described by the 
Apostle not only as triumphing over them (i.e., himself 
and his colleagues) in Christ, but as making manifest 
through them the savour of His knowledge in every 
place. It has been questioned whether "His" knowledge 
is the knowledge of God or of Christ. Grammatically, 
the question can hardly be answered ; but, as we see 
from chap. iv. 6, the two things which it proposes to 
distinguish are really one ; what is manifested in the 
apostolic ministry is the knowledge of God as He is 
revealed in Christ. But why does Paul use the expres- 
sion "Ike savour of His knowledge"? It was suggested 
probably by the figure of the triumph, which was 
present to his mind in all the detail of its circumstances. 
Incense smoked on every altar as the victor passed 
through the streets of Rome ; the fragrant steam floated 
over the procession, a silent proclamation of victory 
and joy. But Paul would not have appropriated this 
feature of the triumph, and applied it to his ministry, 
unless he had felt that there was a real point of com- 
parison, that the knowledge of Christ which he diffused 
among men, wherever he went, was in very truth a 
fragrant thing. 1 True, he was not a free man ; he had 
been subdued by God, and made the slave of Jesus 
Christ ; as the Lord of glory went forth conquering and 
to conquer, over Syria and Asia and Macedonia and 
Greece, He led him as a captive in the triumphal march 

1 In tj)» <5o>V rijf yvdxrevs, yyilxreait is gen. of apposition : the 6a/tif 
«nd the 7>-wcTit are one. 

ii. 12-17.] CHRIST'S CAPTIVE 91 

of His grace ; he was the trophy of Christ's victory ; 
every one who saw him saw that necessity was laid 
upon Him ; but what a gracious necessity it was I 
" The love of Christ constraineth us." The captives 
who were dragged in chains behind a Roman chariot 
also made manifest the knowledge of their conqueror ; 
they declared to all the spectators his power and his 
pitilessness ; there was nothing in that knowledge to 
suggest the idea of a fragrance like incense. But as 
Paul moved through the world, all who had eyes ta 
see saw in him not only the power but the sweet- 
ness of God's redeeming love. The mighty Victor 
made manifest through Him, not only His might, but 
His charm, not only His greatness, but His grace. It 
was a good thing, men felt, to be subdued and led in 
triumph like Paul ; it was to move in an atmosphere 
perfumed by the love of Christ, as the air around 
the Roman triumph was perfumed with incense. The 
Apostle is so sensible of this that he weaves it into his 
sentence as an indispensable part of his thought ; it 
is not merely the knowledge of God which is made 
manifest through him as he is led in triumph, but that 
knowledge as a fragrant, gracious thing, speaking to 
every one of victory and goodness and joy. 

The very word " savour," in connexion with the 
" knowledge " of God in Christ, is full of meaning. It 
has its most direct application, of course, to preaching. 
When we proclaim the Gospel, do we always succeed 
in manifesting it as a savour ? Or is not the savour — 
the sweetness, the winsomeness, the charm and attrac- 
tiveness of it — the very thing that is most easily left 
out ? Do we not catch it sometimes in the words of 
others, and wonder that it eludes our own ? We miss 
what is most characteristic in the knowledge of God if 


we miss this. We leave out that very element in the 
Evangel which makes it evangelic, and gives it its 
power to subdue and enchain the souls of men. But 
it is not to preachers only that the word " savour " 
speaks ; it is of the widest possible application. Where- 
ever Christ is leading a single soul in triumph, the 
fragrance of the Gospel should go forth ; rather, it does 
go forth, in proportion as His triumph is complete. 
There is sure to be that in the life which will reveal 
the graciousness as well as the omnipotence of the 
Saviour. And it is this virtue which God uses as His 
main witness, as His chief instrument, to evangelise the 
world. In every relation of life it should tell. Nothing 
is so insuppressible, nothing so pervasive, as a 
fragrance. The lowliest life which Christ is really 
leading in triumph will speak infallibly and persuasively 
for Him. In a Christian brother or sister, brothers 
and sisters will find a new strength and tenderness, 
something that goes deeper than natural affection, and 
can stand severer shocks ; they will catch the fragrance 
which declares that the Lord in His triumphant grace 
is there. And so in all situations, or, as the Apostle 
has it, "in every place." And if we are conscious that 
we fail in this matter, and that the fragrance of the 
knowledge of Christ is something to which our life 
gives no testimony, let us be sure that the explanation 
of it is to be found in self-will. There is something in 
us which has not yet made complete surrender to Him, 
and not till He leads us unresistingly in triumph will 
the sweet savour go forth. 

At this point the Apostle's thought is arrested by 
the issues of his ministry, though he carries the figure 
of the fragrance, with a little pressure, through to the 
end. In God's sight, he says, or so far as God is 

ii, 1«-I7.] CHRIST'S CAPTIVE 93 

concerned, we are a sweet savour of Christ, a perfume 
redolent of Christ, in which He cannot but take 
pleasure. In other words, Christ proclaimed in the 
Gospel, and the ministries and lives which proclaim 
Him, are always a joy to God. They are a joy to Him, 
whatever men may think of them, alike in them that 
are being saved and in them that are perishing. To 
those who are being saved, they are a savour " from 
life to life " ; to those who are perishing, a savour 
"from death to death." Here, as everywhere, St. Paul 
contemplates these exclusive opposites as the sole 
issues of man's life, and of the Gospel ministry. He 
makes no attempt to subordinate one to the other, no 
suggestion that the way of death may ultimately lead 
to life, much less that it must do so. The whole 
solemnity of the situation, which is faced in the cry 
" And who is sufficient for these things ? " depends on 
the finality of the contrast between life and death. 
These are the goals set before men, and those who are 
being saved and those who are perishing are respectively 
on their way to one or the other. Who is sufficient 
for the calling of the Gospel ministry, when such are 
the alternatives involved in it ? Who is sufficient, in 
love, in wisdom, in humility, in awful earnestness, for 
the duties of a calling the issues of which are life or 
death for ever ? 

There is considerable difficulty in the sixteenth verse, 
partly dogmatic, partly textual. Commentators so 
opposite in their bias as Chrysostom and Calvin have 
pondered and remarked upon the opposite effects here 
ascribed to the Gospel. It is easy to find analogies to 
these in nature. The same heat which hardens clay 
melts iron. The same sunlight which gladdens the 
healthy eye tortures that which is diseased. The 


same honey which is sweet to the sound palate is 
nauseous to the sick ; and so on. But such analogies 
do not explain anything, and one can hardly see what 
is meant by calling them illustrations. It remains 
finally inexplicable that the Gospel, which appeals to 
some with winning irresistible power, subduing and 
leading them in triumph, should excite in others a 
passion of antipathy which nothing else could provoke. 
This remains inexplicable, because it is irrational. 
Nothing that can be pointed to in the universe is the 
least like a bad heart closing itself against the love of 
Christ, like a bad man's will stiffening into absolute 
rigidity against the will of God. The preaching of the 
Gospel may be the occasion of such awful results, but 
it is not their cause. The God whom it proclaims is 
the God of grace ; it is never His will that any should 
perish — always that all should be saved. But He can 
save only by subduing; His grace must exercise a 
sovereign power in us, which through righteousness 
will lead to life everlasting (Rom. v. 21). And when 
this exercise of power is resisted, when we match our 
self-will against the gracious saving will of God, our 
pride, our passions, our mere sloth, against the soul- 
constraining love of Christ; when we prevail in the 
war which God's mercy wages with our wickedness, — 
then the Gospel itself may be said to have ministered 
to our ruin ; it was ordained to life, and we have made 
it a sentence of death. Yet even so, it is the joy and 
glory of God ; it is a sweet savour to Him, fragrant of 
Christ and His love. 

The textual difficulty is in the words etc davdrov ek 
Bdvarov, and e'« ^lorjf els tyorjv. These words are 
rendered in the Revised Version "front death to death," 
and "from life to life." The Authorised Version, follow- 

ii. n-17.] CHRISTY CAPTIVE 95 

mg the Textus Receptus, which omits e'/e in both clauses, 
renders "a savour of death unto death," and "of life 
unto life." In spite of the inferior MS. support, the 
Tex/us Receptus is preferred by many modern scholars — 
e.g., Heinrici, Schmiedel, and Hofmann. They find it 
impossible to give any precise interpretation to the 
better attested reading, and an examination of any 
exposition which accepts it goes far to justify them. 
Thus Professor Beet comments : "From death for death 
(com p. Rom. i. 17): a scent proceeding from, and 
thus revealing the presence of, death ; and, like malaria 
from a putrefying corpse, causing death. Paul's labours 
among some men revealed the eternal death which day 
by day cast an ever-deepening shadow upon them 
[this answers to oa/xr) etc davdrov] ; and by arousing 
in them increased opposition to God, promoted the 
spiritual mortification which had already begun " [this 
answers to eh ddvarov]. Surely it is safe to say that 
nobody in Corinth could ever have guessed this from the 
words. Yet this is a favourable specimen of the inter- 
pretations given. If it were possible to take e'/c davdrov 
€t? OdvaTov, and ex £&>t}? et? £<*>»?*>, as Baur took i/c 
Trio-Tea)? ek iria-rcv in Rom. i. 17, that would be the 
simplest way out of the difficulty, and quite satisfactory. 
What the Apostle said would then be this : that the 
Gospel which he preached, ever good as it was to God, 
had the most opposite characters and effects among men, 
— in some it was death from beginning to end, absolutely 
and unmitigatedly deadly in its nature and workings; 
in others, again, it was life from beginning to end — life 
was the uniform sign of its presence, and its invariable 
issue. This also is the meaning which we get by 
omitting iic : the genitives £eo?}5 and davdrov are then 
adjectival, — a vital fragrance, with life as its element 


and end ; a fatal fragrance, the end of which is 
death. This has the advantage of being the meaning 
which occurs to an ordinary reader ; and if the critically 
approved text, with the repeated e'/e, cannot bear this 
interpretation, 1 think there is a fair case for defending 
the received text on exegetical grounds. Certainly 
nothing but the broad impression of the received text 
will ever enter the general mind. 

The question that rises to the Apostle's lips as he 
confronts the solemn situation created by the Gospel 
is not directly answered. " Who is sufficient for these 
things ? Who ? I say. For we are not as the many, 1 
who corrupt the Word of God : but as of sincerity, but 
as of God, in the sight of God, we speak in Christ." 
Paul is conscious as he writes that his awful sense of 
responsibility as a preacher of the Gospel is not shared 
by all who exercise the same vocation. To be the 
bearer and the representative of a power with issues 
so tremendous ought surely to annihilate every thought 
of self; to let personal interest intrude is to declare 
oneself faithless and unworthy. We are startled to 
hear from Paul's lips what at first sight seems to be a 
charge of just such base self-seeking laid against the 
majority of preachers. "We are not as the many, 
corrupting the Word of God." The expressive word 
rendered here " corrupting " has the idea of self-interest, 
and especially of petty gain, at its basis. It means 

1 "The many" (ol iroXXof) seems to be the true reading. "The 
rest" (ol XoittoO would be stronger still in its condemnation. But 
probably Paul is not thinking of the Church in general, but of the 
teachers as a bo<ly who crossed and thwarted him in his chosen field. 
The transition which is immediately made to the case of his opponent* 
(Ti»h, iii. I), and to the comparison of the old and nrw covenants, 
suggests that his Judwistic adversaries in Corinth (see chap, xi.) are 
in view. 

ii.ia-17.] CHRIST'S CAPTIVE 97 

I , ■ ■ ■— .1. I I ■ ■ ■I.. — I. 1 ■ . - .■ I.. -i- r— ■ i ■■■■ . ■ w IIIH ■ II gr »- 

literally to sell in small quantities, to retail for profit. 
But it was specially applied to tavern-keeping, and 
extended to cover all the devices by which the wine- 
sellers in ancient times deceived their customers, 
Then it was used figuratively, as here; and Lucian, 
e.g., speaks of philosophers as selling the sciences, and 
in most cases (ot woWol: a curious parallel to St. 
Paul), like tavern-keepers, " blending, adulterating, and 
giving bad measure." It is plain that there are two 
separable ideas here. One is that of men qualifying 
the Gospel, infiltrating their own ideas into the Word 
of God, tempering its severity, or perhaps its good- 
ness, veiling its inexorableness, dealing in compromise. 
The other is that all such proceedings are faithless 
and dishonest, because some private interest underlies 
them. It need not be avarice, though it is as likely 
to be this as anything else. A man corrupts the Word 
of God, makes it the stock-in-trade of a paltry business 
of his own, in many other ways than by subordinating 
it to the need of a livelihood. When he exercises his 
calling as a minister for the gratification of his vanity, 
he does so. When he preaches not that awful message 
in which life and death are bound up, but himself, his 
cleverness, his learning, his humour, his fine voice even 
or fine gestures, he does so. He makes the Word 
minister to him, instead of being a minister of the 
Word ; and that is the essence of the sin. It is the 
same if ambition be his motive, if he preaches to win 
disciples to himself, to gain an ascendency over souls, 
to become the head of a party which will bear the 
impress of his mind. There was something of this 
at Corinth; and not only there, but wherever it is 
found, such a spirit and such interests will change the 
character of the Gospel. It will not be preserved in 



that integrity, in that simple, uncompromising, absolute 
character which it has as revealed in Christ. Have 
another interest in it than that of God, and that interest 
will inevitably colour it. You will make it what it was 
not, and the virtue will depart from it. 

In contrast with all such dishonest ministers, the 
Apostle represents himself and his friends speaking 
"as of sincerity." They have no mixture of motives 
in their work as evangelists ; they have indeed no 
independent motives at all : God is leading them in 
triumph, and proclaiming His grace through them. It 
is He who prompts every word (a>? ex &eov). Yet their 
responsibility and their freedom are intact. They feel 
themselves in His presence as they speak, and in that 
presence they speak " in Christ." " In Christ " is the 
Apostle's mark. Not in himself apart from Christ, 
where any mixture of motives, any process of adultera- 
tion, would have been possible, but only in that union 
with Christ which was the very life of his life, did he 
carry on his evangelistic work. This was his final 
security, and it is still the only security, that the 
Gospel can have fair play in the world. 

VII f 


'Are we beginning again to commend ourselves? or need we, as 
do some, epistles of commendation to you or from you ? Ye are our 
epistle, written in our hearts, known and read of all men; being made 
manifest that ye are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not 
with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God ; not in tables of stone, 
but in tables that are hearts of tlesh." — 2 Cor. iii. 1-3 (R.V.). 

ARE we beginning again to commend ourselves ? " 
Paul does not mean by these words to admit that 
he had been commending himself before : he means 
that he has been accused already of doing so, and that 
there are those at Corinth who, when they hear such 
passages of this letter as that which has just preceded, 
will be ready to repeat the accusation. In the First 
Epistle he had found it necessary to vindicate his 
apostolic authority, and especially his interest in the 
Corinthian Church as its spiritual father (1 Cor. ix. 1-27, 
iv. 6-21), and obviously his enemies at Corinth had 
tried to turn these personal passages against him. They 
did so on the principle Qui s'excuse s accuse. " He is 
commending himself," they said, "and self-commenda- 
tion is an argument which discredits, instead of sup- 
porting, a cause." The Apostle had heard of these 
malicious speeches, and in this Epistle makes repeated 
reference to them (see chaps, v. 12, x. 18, xiii. 6). He 
entirely agreed with his opponents that self-praise was 



no honour. " Not he who commendeth himself is 
approved, but he whom the Lord commendeth." But 
he denied point-blank that he was commending himself. 
In distinguishing as he had done in chap. ii. 14-17 
between himself and his colleagues, who spoke the 
Word " as of sincerity, as of God, in the sight of God," 
and " the many " who corrupted it, nothing was further 
from his mind than to plead his cause, as a suspected 
person, with the Corinthians. Only malignity could 
suppose any such thing, and the indignant question with 
which the chapter opens tacitly accuses his adversaries 
of this hateful vice. It is pitiful to see a great and 
generous spirit like Paul compelled thus to stand upon 
guard, and watch against the possible misconstruction 
of every lightest word. What needless pain it inflicts 
upon him, what needless humiliation I How it checks 
all effusion of feeling, and robs what should be brotherly 
intercourse of everything that can make it free and 
glad ! Further on in the Epistle there will be abundant 
opportunity of speaking on this subject at greater 
length ; but it is proper to remark here that a minister's 
character is the whole capital he has for carrying on 
his business, and that nothing can be more cruel and 
wicked than to cast suspicion on it without cause. In 
most other callings a man may go on, no matter what 
his character, provided his balance at the bank is on 
the right side ; but an evangelist or a pastor who has 
lost his character has lost everything. It is humiliating 
to be subject to suspicion, painful to be silent under 
it, degrading to speak. At a later stage Paul was 
compelled to go further than he goes here ; but let the 
indignant emotion of this abrupt question remind us 
that candour is to be met with candour, and that the 
suspicious temper which would fain malign the good 


cats like a canker the very heart of those who 
cherish it. 

From the serious tone the Apostle passes suddenly 
to the ironical. " Or need we, as do some, epistles of 
commendation to you or from you ? " The " some " of 
this verse are probably the same as " the many " of chap, 
ii. 17. Persons had come to Corinth in the character 
of Christian teachers, bringing with them recommenda- 
tory letters which secured their standing when they 
arrived. An example of what is meant can be seen 
in Acts xviii. 27. There we are told that when Apollos, 
who had been working in Ephesus, was minded to pass 
over into Achaia, the Ephesian brethren encouraged 
him, and wrote to the disciples to receive him — that 
is, they gave him an epistle of commendation, which 
secured him recognition and welcome in Corinth. A 
similar case is found in Rom. xvi. 1, where the Apostle 
uses the very word which we have here : " I commend 
unto you Phcebe our sister, who is a servant of the 
Church that is at Cenchreae : that ye receive her in the 
Lord, worthily of the saints, and that ye assist her in 
whatsoever matter she may have need of you : for she 
herself also hath been a succourer of many, and of mine 
own self." This was Phoebe's introduction, or epistle 
of commendation, to the Church of Rome. The Cor- 
inthians were evidently in the habit both of receiving 
such letters from other Churches, and of granting them 
on their own account ; and Paul asks them ironically if 
they think he ought to bring one, or when he leaves 
them to apply for one. Is (hat the relation which ought 
to obtain between him and them ? The " some," to 
whom he refers, had no doubt come from Jerusalem : it 
i6 they who are referred to in chap. xi. 22 ff. But it does 
not follow that their recommendatory letters had been 


signed by Peter, James, and John ; and just as little 
that those letters justified them in their hostility to 
Paul. No doubt there were many — many myriads, the 
Book of Acts says — at Jerusalem, whose conception of 
the Gospel was very different from his, and who were 
glad to counteract him whenever they could ; but there 
were many also, including the three who seemed to be 
pillars, who had a thoroughly good understanding with 
him, and who had no responsibility for the " some " 
and their doings. The epistles which the "some" 
brought were plainly such as the Corinthians them- 
selves could grant, and it is a complete misinterpreta- 
tion to suppose that they were a commission granted 
by the Twelve for the persecution of Paul. 

The giving of recommendatory letters is a subject 
of considerable practical interest. When they are 
merely formal, as in our certificates of Church member- 
ship, they come to mean very little. It is an unhappy 
state of affairs perhaps, but no one would take a 
certificate of Church membership by itself as a satis- 
factory recommendation. And when we go past the 
merely formal, difficult questions arise. Many people 
have an estimate of their own character and competence, 
in which it is impossible for others to share, and yet 
they apply without misgiving to their friends, and 
especially to their minister or their employer, to grant 
them " epistles of commendation." We are bound to 
be generous in these things, but we are bound also 
to be honest. The rule which ought to guide us, 
especially in all that belongs to the Church and its 
work, is the interest of the cause, and not of the 
worker. To flatter is to do a wrong, not only to the 
person flattered, but to the cause in which you are 
trying to employ him. There is no more ludicrous 

iii.i-3-] LIVING EPISTLES 103 

reading in the world than a bundle of certificates, 
or testimonials, as they are called. As a rule, they 
certify nothing but the total absence of judgment and 
conscience in the people who have granted them. If 
you do not know whether a person is qualified for any 
given situation or not, you do not need to say anything 
about it. If you know he is not, and he asks you to 
say that he is, no personal consideration must keep 
you from kindly but firmly declining. I am not preach- 
ing suspicion, or reserve, or anything ungenerous, but 
justice and truth. It is wicked to betray a great 
interest by bespeaking it for incompetent hands ; it is 
cruel to put any one into a place for which he is unfit, 
Where you are confident that the man and the work 
will be well matched, be as generous as you please ; 
but never forget that the work is to be considered in 
the first place, and the man only in the second. 

Paul has been serious, and ironical, in the first 
verse ; in ver. 2 he becomes serious again, and remains 
so. u You" he says, answering his ironical question, 
"you are our epistle." Epistle, of course, is to be 
taken in the sense of the preceding verse. " You are the 
commendatory letter which / show, when I am asked 
for my credentials." But to whom does he show it ?• 
In the first instance, to the captious Corinthians them- 
selves. The tone of chap. ix. in the First Epistle is, 
struck here again : " Wherever I may need recommen- 
dations, it is certainly not at Corinth." " If I be not an 
apostle to others, yet doubtless I am to you : the seal 
of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord." Had they 
been a Christian community when he first visited them, 
they might have asked who he was; but they owed 
their Christianity to him ; he was their father in 
Christ ; to put him to the question in this superior, 


suspicious style was unnatural, unfilial ingratitude. 
They themselves were the living evidence of the very 
thing which they threw doubt upon — the apostleship 
of Paul. 

This bold utterance may well excite misgivings in 
those who preach constantly, yet see no result of their 
work. It is common to disparage success, the success 
of visible acknowledged conversions, of bad men openly 
renouncing badness, bearing witness against them- 
selves, and embracing a new life. It is common to 
glorify the ministry which works on, patient and un- 
complaining, in one monotonous round, ever sowing, 
but never reaping, ever casting the net, but never 
drawing in the fish, ever marking time, but never 
advancing. Paul frankly and repeatedly appeals to his 
success in evangelistic work as the final and sufficient 
proof that God had called him, and had given him 
authority as an apostle ; and search as we will, we 
shall not find any test so good and unequivocal as this 
success. Paul had seen the Lord ; he was qualified 
to be a witness of the Resurrection ; but these, at the 
very most, were his own affair, till the witness he bore 
had proved its power in the hearts and consciences of 
others. How to provide, to train, and to test the men 
who are to be the ministers of the Christian Church 
is a matter of the very utmost consequence, to which 
sufficient attention has not yet been given. Congrega- 
tions which choose their own pastor are often compelled 
to take a man quite untried, and to judge him more or 
less on superficial grounds. They can easily find out 
whether he is a competent scholar ; they can see for 
themselves what are his gifts of speech, his virtues or 
defects of manner ; they can get such an impression 
as sensible people always get, by seeing and hearing a 

iii. 1-3.] LIVING EPISTLES 105 

man, of the general earnestness or lack of earnestness 
in his character. But often they feel that more is 
wanted. It is not exactly more in the way of character ; 
the members of a Church have no right to expect that 
their minister will be a truer Christian than they them- 
selves are. A special inquisition into his conversion, 
or his religious experience, is mere hypocrisy; if the 
Church is not sufficiently in earnest to guard herself 
against insincere members, she must take the risk of 
insincere ministers. What is wanted is what the 
Apostle indicates here — that intimation of God's con- 
currence which is given through success in evangelistic 
work. No other intimation of God's concurrence is 
infallible — no call by a congregation, no ordination by 
a presbytery or by a bishop. Theological education is 
easily provided, and easily tested ; but it will not be 
so easy to introduce the reforms which are needed in 
this direction. Great masses of Christian people, how- 
ever, are becoming alive to the necessity for them ; 
and when the pressure is more strongly felt, the way 
for action will be discovered. Only those who can 
appeal to what they have done in the Gospel can be 
known to have the qualifications of Gospel ministers ; 
and in due time the fact will be frankly recognised. 

The conversioi and new life of the Corinthians were 
Paul's certificate as an apostle. They were a certifi- 
cate known, he says, and read by all men. Often 
there is a certain awkwardness in the presenting of 
credentials. It embarrasses a man when he has to 
put his hand into his breast pocket, and take out his 
character, and submit it for inspection. Paul was 
saved this embarrassment. There was a fine unsought 
publicity about his testimonials. Everybody knew 
what the Corinthians had been, everybody knew what 


they were ; and the man to whom the change was 
due needed no other recommendation to a Christian 
society. Whoever looked at them saw plainly that 
they were an epistle of Christ ; the mind of Christ 
could be read upon them, and it had been written by 
the intervention of Paul's hand. This is an interest- 
ing though a well-worn conception of the Christian 
character. Every life has a meaning, we say; every 
face is a record ; but the text goes further. The life 
of the Christian is an epistle ; it has not only a mean- 
ing, but an address ; it is a message from Christ to 
the world. Is Christ's message to men legible on 
our lives ? When those who are without look at us, 
do they see the hand of Christ quite unmistakably ? 
Does it ever occur to anybody that there is something 
in our life which is not of the world, but which is a 
message to the world from Christ? Did you ever, 
startled by the unusual brightness of a true Chris- 
tian's life, ask as it were involuntarily, " Whose image 
and superscription is this ? " and feel as you asked it 
that these features, these characters, could only have 
been traced by one hand, and that they proclaimed 
to all the grace and power of Jesus Christ ? Christ 
wishes so to write upon us that men may see what 
He does for man. He wishes to engrave His image 
on our nature, that all spectators may feel that it has 
a message for them, and may crave the same favour. 
A congregation which is not in its very existence and 
in all its works and ways a legible epistle, an un- 
mistakable message from Christ to man, does not 
answer to this New Testament ideal. 

Paul claims no part here but that of Christ's instru- 
ment. The Lord, so to speak, dictated the letter, and 
he wrote it. The contents of it were prescribed by 

iii. 1-3.] LIVING EPISTLES 107 

Christ, and through the Apostle's ministry became 
visible and legible in the Corinthians. More im- 
portant is it to notice with what the writing was done : 
" not with ink," says St. Paul, " but with the Spirit of the 
living God." At first sight this contrast seems formal 
and fantastic ; nobody, we think, could ever dream of 
making either of these things do the work of the other, 
so that it seems perfectly gratuitous in Paul to say, 
"not with ink, but with the Spirit." Yet ink is some- 
times made to bear a great deal of responsibility. The 
characters of the Tivh (" some ") in ver. i. were only 
written in ink ; they had nothing, Paul implies, to 
recommend them but these documents in black and 
white. That was hardly sufficient to guarantee their 
authority, or their competence as ministers in the Chris- 
tian dispensation. But do not Churches yet accept 
their ministers with the same inadequate testimonials ? 
A distinguished career at the University, or in the 
Divinity Schools, proves that a man can write with 
ink, under favourable circumstances ; it does not prove 
more than that ; it does not prove that he will be 
spiritually effective, and everything else is irrelevant. 
I do not say this to disparage the professional training 
of ministers ; on the contrary, the standard of training 
ought to be higher than it is in all the Churches : I 
only wish to insist that nothing which can be repre- 
sented in ink, no learning, no literary gifts, no critical 
acquaintance with the Scriptures even, can write upon 
human nature the Epistle of Christ. To do that needs 
" the Spirit of the living God." We feel, the moment 
we come upon those words, that the Apostle is anticipat- 
ing ; he has in view already the contrast he is going to 
develop between the old dispensation and the new, 
and the irresistible inward power by which the new 


is characterised. Others might boast of qualifications 
to preach which could be certified in due documentary 
form, but he carried in him wherever he went a power 
which was its own witness, and which overruled and 
dispensed with every other. Let all of us who teach 
or preach concentrate our interest here. It is in " the 
Spirit of the living God," not in any acquirements of 
our own, still less in any recommendations of others, 
that our serviceableness as ministers of Christ lies. 
We cannot write His epistle without it. We cannot 
see, let us be as diligent and indefatigable in our 
work as we please, the image of Christ gradually come 
out in those to whom we minister. Parents, teachers, 
preachers, this is the one thing needful for us all. 
" Tarry," said Jesus to the first evangelists, " tarry in 
the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power 
from on high " ; it is of no use to begin without that. 

This idea of the " epistle " has taken such a hold 
of the Apostle's mind, and he finds it so suggestive 
whichever way he turns it, that he really tries to say 
too much about it in one sentence. The crowding of 
his ideas is confusing. One learned critic enumerates 
three points in which the figure becomes inconsistent 
with itself, and another can only defend the Apostle 
by saying that this figurative letter might well have 
qualities which would be self-contradictory in a real 
one. This kind of criticism smells a little of ink, and 
the only real difficulty in the sentence has never misled 
any one who read it with sympathy. It is this — that 
St. Paul speaks of the letter as written in two different 
places. " Ye are our epistle," he says at the beginning, 
" written in our hearts " ; but at the end he says, 
"written not on tables of stone, but on tables that 
are hearts of flesh " — meaning evidently on the hearts 


of the Corinthians. Of course this last is the sense 
which coheres with the figure. Paul's ministry wrote 
the Epistle of Christ upon the Corinthians, or, if we 
prefer it, wrought such a change in their hearts that 
they became an epistle of Christ, an epistle to which 
he appealed in proof of his apostolic calling. In ex- 
pressing himself as he does about this, he is again 
anticipating the coming contrast of Law and Gospel. 
Nobody would think of writing a letter on tables of 
stone, and he only says " not on stone tables " because 
he has in his mind the difference between the Mosaic 
and the Christian dispensation. It is quite out of 
place to refer to Ezek. xi. 19, xxxvi. 26, and to drag 
in the contrast between hard and tender hearts. What 
Paul means is that the Epistle of Christ is not written 
on dead matter, but on human nature, and that too at 
its finest and deepest. When we remember the sense 
of depth and inwardness which attaches to the heart 
in Scripture, it is not forcing the words to find in them 
the suggestion that the Gospel works no merely outward 
change. It is not written on the surface, but in the 
soul. The Spirit of the living God finds access for 
itself to the secret places of the human spirit ; the most 
hidden recesses of our nature are open to it, and tht 
very heart is made new. To be able to write there for 
Christ, to point not to anything dead, but to living men 
and women, not to anything superficial, but to a change 
that has reached the very core of man's being, and 
works its way out from thence, is the testimonial which 
guarantees the evangelist ; it is the divine attestation 
that he is in the true apostolical succession. 1 

1 The true reading of the last words in ver. 3 is doubtful. The 
Received Text has iv *-Xa£l xapSlas aapaccui. This is as old as 
Irenseus and Origen, and is found in many versions. Almost aU 


What, then, does Paul mean by the other clause, 
" ye are cur epistle, written on our hearts " ? I do not 
think we can get much more than an emotional cer- 
tainty about this expression. When a man has been 
an intensely interested spectator, still more an intensely 
interested actor, in any great affair, he might say after- 
wards that the whole thing and all its circumstances 
were engraved upon his heart. I imagine that is what 
St. Paul means here. The conversion of the Cor- 
inthians made them an epistle of Christ ; in making 
them believers through St. Paul's ministry, Christ wrote 
on their hearts what was really an epistle to the world ; 
and the whole transaction, in which Paul's feelings had 
been deeply engaged, stood written on his heart for 
ever. Interpretations that go beyond this do not seem 
to me to be justified by the words. Thus Heinrici and 
Meyer say, " We have in our own consciousness the 
certainty of being recommended to you by yourselves 
and to others by you " ; and they elucidate this by 
saying, "The Apostle's own good consciousness was, as 
it were, the tablet on which this living epistle of the 
Corinthians stood, and that had to be left unassailed 
even by the most malevolent." A sense so pragmatical 
and pedantic, even if one can grasp it at all, is surely 
out of place, and many readers will fail to discover it 
in the text. What the words do convey is the warm 

MSS. give the reading which is translated in the Revised Version : 
h irXaJi Kap5lais capKtvais ( N> A, B, C, D, etc.) ; and this is adopted 
by most ol tin- pureiy critical editors. Some, however, and many 
exegetes, suspect a primitive error, affecting all MSS. and versions, 
Schmiedel would omit KapSiats or xapSias, as a marginal note, sug- 
gested by Prov. vii. 3, Jer. xvii. 1 ; Westcott and Hort, on the other 
hand, think that irXofi may be a primitive interpolation. No cer- 
tainty is possible ; but considering Old Testament usage, one would 
expect Paul to write h ir\a£l KapSlat almost unconsciously. 


love of the Apostle, who had exercised his ministry 
among the Corinthians with all the passion of his 
nature, and who still bore on his ardent heart the 
fresh impression of his work and its results. 

Amid all these details let us take care not to lose the 
one great lesson of the passage. Christian people owe 
a testimony to Christ. His name has been pronounced 
over them, and all who look at them ought to see His 
nature. We should discern in the heart and in the 
behaviour of Christians the handwriting, let us say the 
characters, not of avarice, of suspicion, of envy, of lust^ 
of falsehood, of pride, but of Christ. It is to us He 
has committed Himself; we are the certification to men 
of what He does for man ; His character is in our care. 
The true epistles of Christ to the world are not those 
which are expounded in pulpits ; they are not even 
the gospels in which Christ Himself lives and moves 
before us; they are living men and women, on the 
tables of whose hearts the Spirit of the living God, 
ministered by a true evangelist, has engraved the 
likeness of Christ Himself. It is not the written Word 
on which Christianity ultimately depends; it is not 
the sacraments, nor so-called necessary institutions : It 
is this inward, spiritual, Divine writing which is the 
guarantee of all else. 



"And such confidence have we through Christ to God -ward : not 
that we are sufficient of ourselves, to account anything as from 
ourselves; but our sufficiency is from God; who also made us 
sufficient as ministers of a new covenant ; not of the letter, but of 
the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. But if 
the ministration of death, written, and engraven on stones, came 
with glory, so that the children of Israel could not look stedfastly 
upon the face of Moses for the glory of his face ; which glory was 
passing away: how shall not rather the ministration of the spirit 
be with glory ? For if the ministration of condemnation is glory, 
much rather doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. 
For verily that which hath been made glorious hath not been made 
glorious in this respect, by reason of the glory that surpasseth. For 
if that which passeth away was with glory, much more that which 
remaineth is in glory." — 2 Cor. iii. 4-11 (R.V.). 

THE confidence referred to in the opening of this 
passage is that which underlies the triumphant 
sentences at the end of the second chapter. The tone 
of those sentences was open to misinterpretation, and 
Paul guards himself against this on two sides. To 
begin with, his motive in so expressing himself was 
quite pure : he had no thought of commending himself 
to the Corinthians. And, again, the ground of his 
confidence was not in himself. The courage which he 
had to speak as he did he had through Jesus Christ, 
and that, too, in relation to God. It was virtually 
confidence in God, and therefore inspired by God. 
It is this last aspect of his confidence which is 

iii.4-".] THE TWO COVENANTS 113 

expanded in the fifth verse : " not that we are sufficient 
of ourselves, to account anything as from ourselves ; 
but our sufficiency is from Gcd." This vehement dis- 
claimer of any self-sufficiency has naturally been taken 
in the widest sense, and theologians from Augustine 
downward have found in it one of the most decisive 
proofs of the inability of man for any spiritual good 
accompanying salvation. No one, we may be sure, 
would have ascribed salvation, and all spiritual good 
accompanying it, entirely to God with more hearty 
sincerity than the Apostle ; but it does seem better 
here to give his words a narrower and more relevant 
interpretation. The " sufficiency to account anything," 
of which he speaks, must have a definite meaning for 
the context ; and this meaning is suggested by the 
words of chap. ii. 14-17. Paul would never have 
dared, he tells us — indeed, he would never have been 
able — on his own motion, and out of his own resources, 
either to form conclusions, or to express them, on 
the subjects there in view. It is not for any man 
at random to say what the true Gospel is, what are 
its issues, what the responsibilities of its hearers or 
preachers, what is the spirit requisite in the evangelist, 
or what are the methods legitimate for him. The 
Gospel is God's concern, and only those who have 
been capacitated by Him are entitled to speak as Paul 
has spoken. If this is a narrower sense than that 
which is expounded so vigorously by Calvin, it is 
more pertinent, and some will find it quite as pungent. 
Of all things that are done hastily and inconsiderately, 
by people calling themselves Christian, the criticism of 
evangelists is one of the most conspicuous. At his 
own prompting, out of his own wise head, any man 
almost will both make up his mind and speak his 



mind about any preacher with no sense of responsibility 
whatever. Paul certainly did form opinions about 
preachers, opinions which were anything but flattering ; 
but he did it through Jesus Christ and in relation to 
God ; he did it because, as he writes, God had made 
him sufficient, i.e. had given him capacity to be, and 
the capacity of, a true evangelist, so that he knew 
both what the Gospel was, and how it ought to be 
proclaimed. It would silence much incompetent, because 
self-sufficient, criticism, if no one " thought anything " 
who had not this qualification. 

The qualification having been mentioned, the Apostle 
proceeds, as usual, to enlarge upon it. " Our sufficiency 
is of God ; who also made us sufficient as ministers of 
a new covenant ; not of letter, but of spirit : for the 
letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life." At the first 
glance, we see no reason why his thought should take 
this direction, and it can only be because those whom 
he is opposing, and with whom he has contrasted 
himself in chap. ii. 1 7, are in some sense representatives 
of the old covenant, ministers of the letter in spite of 
their claim to be evangelists, and appealing not to a 
competency which came from God, but to one which 
rested on "the flesh." They based their title to preach 
on certain advantages of birth, or on having known 
Jesus when He lived in the world, or perhaps on 
certification by others who had known Him ; at all 
events, not on that spiritual competence which Paul's 
ministry at Corinth had shown him to possess. That 
this was really the case will be seen more fully at a 
later stage (especially in chaps, x. ff.). 

With the words " ministers of a new covenant " we 
enter upon one of the great passages in St. Paul's 
writings, and are allowed to see one of the inspiring 

iii.4-ii.] THE TWO COVENANTS 115 

and governing ideas in his mind. " Covenant," even 
to people familiar with the Bible, is beginning to be a 
remote and technical term; it needs to be translated 
or explained. If no more than another word is to be 
used, perhaps " dispensation " or " constitution " would 
suggest something. God's covenant with Israel was the 
whole constitution under which God was the God of 
Israel, and Israel the people of God. The new covenant 
of which Paul speaks necessarily implies an old one ; 
and the old one is this covenant with Israel. It was a 
national covenant, and for that, among oth^r reasons, 
it was represented and embodied in legal forms. There 
was a legal constitution under which the nation lived, 
and according to which all God's dealings with it, and 
all its dealings with God, were regulated. Without 
entering more deeply, in the meantime, into the nature 
of this constitution, or the religious experiences which 
were possible to those who lived under it, it is sufficient 
to notice that the best spirits in the nation became 
conscious of its inadequacy, and eventually of its failure. 
Jeremiah, who lived through the long agony of his 
country's dissolution, and saw the final collapse of 
the ancient order, felt this failure most deeply, and 
was consoled by the vision of a brighter future. That 
future rested for him on a more intimate relation of 
God to His people, on a constitution, as we may fairly 
paraphrase his words, less legal and more spiritual. 
"Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will 
make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and 
with the house of Judah : not according to the covenant 
that I made with their fathers in the day that I took 
them by the hand to bring them out of the land of 
Egypt ; which My covenant they brake, although I was 
an husband unto them, saith the Lord. But this is the 


covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after 
those days, saith the Lord ; I will put my law in their 
inward parts, and in their heart will I write it ; and I 
will be their God, and they shall be My people : and 
they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and 
every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord : for 
they shall all know Me, from the least of them unto the 
greatest of them, saith the Lord : for 1 will forgive 
their iniquity, and their sin will I remember no more." 
This wonderful passage, so profound, so spiritual, so 
evangelical, is the utmost reach of prophecy ; it is a 
sort of stepping-stone between the Old Testament and 
the New. Jeremiah has cried to God out of the depths, 
and God has heard his cry, and raised him to a spiritual 
height from which his eye ranges over the land of 
promise, and rests with yearning on all its grandest 
features. We do not know whether many of his 
contemporaries or successors were able to climb the 
mount which offered this glorious prospect ; but we 
know that the promise remained a promise — a rainbow 
light across the dark cloud of national disaster — till 
Christ claimed its fulfilment as His work. It was His 
to make good all that the prophets had spoken ; and 
when in the last hours of His life He said to His 
disciples, " This is My blood of the covenant, 1 which is 
shed for many, for the remission of sins," it was 
exactly as if He had laid His hand on that passage 
of Jeremiah, and said, "This day is this scripture ful- 
filled before your eyes." By the death of Jesus a new 
spiritual order was established ; it rested on the forgive- 
ness of sins, it made God accessible to all, it made 

1 The true reading in Matt. xxvi. 28 omits " new," but the reference 
is unmistakable. 


obedience an instinct and a joy ; all the intercourse of 
God and man was carried on upon a new footing, 
under a new constitution ; to use the words of the 
prophet and the apostle, God made a new covenant 
with His people. 

Among the Christians of the first age, no one so 
thoroughly appreciated the newness of Christianity, 
or was so immensely impressed by it, as St. Paul. 
The difference between the earlier dispensation and 
the later, between the religion of Moses' disciples and 
the religion of believers in Jesus Christ, was one that 
could hardly be exaggerated ; he himself had been a 
zealot of the old, he was now a zealot of the new ; and 
the gulf between his former and his present self was one 
that no geometry could measure. He had lived, after 
the straitest sect of the old religion, a Pharisee ; touch- 
ing the righteousness which is in the law he could call 
himself blameless ; he had tasted the whole bitterness 
of the legalism, the formality, the bondage, in which 
the old covenant entangled those who were devoted to 
it in his days. It is with this in his memory that he 
here sets the old and the new in unrelieved opposition 
to each other. His feeling is like that of a man who 
has just been liberated from prison, and whose whole 
mind is possessed and filled up with the single sensa- 
tion that it is one thing to be chained, and another 
thing to be free. In the passage before us, this is all 
the Apostle has in view. He speaks as if the old 
covenant and the new had nothing in common, as if 
the new, to borrow Baur's expression, had merely a 
negative relation to the old, as if it could only be con- 
trasted with it, and not compared to it, or illustrated by 
it. And with this restricted view he characterises the 
old dispensation as one of letter, and the new as one 


of spirit. 1 Speaking out of his own experience, which 
was not solitary, but typical, he could truly speak thus. 
The essence of the old, to a Pharisee born and bred, 
was its documentary, statutory character : the law, 
written in letters, on stone tablets or parchment sheets, 
simply confronted men with its uninspiring imperative ; 
it had never yet given any one a good conscience or 
enabled him to attain to the righteousness of God. 
The essence of the new, on the other hand, was spirit ; 
the Christian was one in whom, through Christ, the 
Holy Spirit of God dwelt, putting the righteousness 
of God within his reach, enabling him to perfect holiness 
in God's fear. The contrast is made absolute, pro tern. 
There is no " spirit " in the old at all ; there is no 
" letter " in the new. This last assertion was more 
natural then than now ; for at the time when Paul 
wrote this Epistle, there was no " New Testament of 
our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ " consigned in 
documents and collected for the use of the Church. 
The Gospel existed in the world, not at all in books, 
but only in men ; all the epistles were living epistles ; 
there was literally no letter, but only spirit. 

This, doubtless, is the explanation of the blank 
antithesis of the old covenant and the new in the 
passage before us. But it is obvious, when we think 
of it, that this antithesis does not exhaust the relations 
of the two. It is not the whole truth about the earlier 
dispensation to say that, while the new is spiritual, it 
is not. The religion of the Old Testament was not 
mere legalism ; if it had been, the Old Testament would 
be for us an unprofitable and almost an unintelligible 

1 Grammatically, it is probable that ypd/j./j.aros and irvei^.a.Tot in ver. 6 
depend, not on 5ia<? /}/ojr, but on SiaKovovs ; but the sense is all one. 

iii. 4-ii] THE TWO COVENANTS 119 

book. That religion had its spiritual side, as all but 
utterly corrupt religions always have ; God administered 
His grace to His people through it, and in psalms and 
prophecies we have records of their experiences, which 
are not legal, but spiritual, and priceless even to 
Christian men. Nor would Paul, under other circum- 
stances, have refused to admit this ; on the contrary, 
it is a prominent element in his teaching. He knows 
that the old bears in its bosom the promise of the new, 
a sum of promises that has been confirmed and made 
good in Jesus Christ (chap. i. 20). He knows that the 
righteousness of God, which is proclaimed in the Gospel, 
is witnessed to by the law and the prophets (Rom. 
iii. 21). He knows that "the law," even, is "spiritual " 
(Rom. vii. 14). He knows that the righteousness of 
faith was a secret revealed to David (Rom. iv. 6 f.). He 
would probably have agreed with Stephen that the 
oracles received and delivered by Moses in the wilder- 
ness were " living " oracles ; and his profound mind 
would have thrilled to hear that great word of Jesus, 
"I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil." Had he lived 
to a time like ours, when the Gospel also has been 
embodied in a book, instead of using " letter " and 
" spirit " as mutually exclusive, he would have admitted, 
as we do, that both ideas apply, in some sense, to both 
dispensations, and that it is possible to take the old 
and the new alike either in the letter or in the spirit. 
Nevertheless, he would have been entitled to say that, 
if they were to be characterised in their differences, 
they must be characterised as he has done it : the 
mark of the old, as opposed to the new, is literalism, 
or legalism ; the mark of the new, as opposed to the 
old, is spirituality, or freedom. They differ as law 
differs from life, as compulsion from inspiration. Taken 


thus, no one can have any difficulty in agreeing 
with him. 

But the Apostle does not rest in generalities : he 
goes on to a more particular comparison of the old and 
the new dispensations, and especially to a demonstration 
that the new is the more glorious. He starts with 
a statement of their working, as dependent on their 
nature just described. One is letter ; the other, spirit 
Well, the letter kills, but the spirit gives life. A 
sentence so pregnant as this, and so capable of various 
applications, must have been very perplexing to the 
Corinthians, had they not been fairly acquainted before- 
hand with the Apostle's " form of doctrine " (Rom. vi. 
17). It condenses in itself a whole cycle of his 
characteristic thoughts. All that he says in the Epistles 
to the Romans and the Galatians about the working of 
the law, in its relation to the flesh, is represented in 
" the letter killeth." The power of the law to create 
the consciousness of sin and to intensify it ; to stimulate 
transgression, and so make sin exceeding sinful, and 
shut men up in despair; to pass sentence upon the 
guilty, the hopeless sentence of death, — all this is 
involved in the words. The fulness of meaning is as 
ample in "the spirit giveth life." The Spirit of Christ, 
given to those who receive Christ in the Gospel, is an 
infinite power and an infinite promise. It includes the 
reversal of all that the letter has wrought. The sen- 
tence of de^th is reversed ; the impotence to good is 
counteracted and overcome ; the soul looks out to, and 
anticipates, not the blackness of darkness for ever, but 
the everlasting glory of Christ. 1 When the Apostle has 

'The contrast of "letter" and "spirit" has, as is well known, 
been taken in various ways. That which is given above undoubtedly 
represents St. Paul's mind, and may be called the historical interpre- 

iii.4-".) THE TWO COVENANTS tai 

written these two little sentences — when he has sup- 
plied " letter " and " spirit " with the predicates " kill " 
and " make alive," in the sense which they bear in the 
Christian revelation — he has gone as far as the mind of 
man can go in stating an effective contrast. But he 
works it out with reference to some special points in 
which the superiority of the new to the old is to be 

(i) In the first place, the ministry of the old was a 
ministry of death. Even as such it had a glory, or 
splendour, of its own. The face of Moses, its great 
minister, shone after he had been in the presence of 
God ; and though that brightness was passing away 
even as men caught sight of it (rtjv tcaTapjovfAevr}i/ is 
partic. impf.), it was so resplendent as to dazzle the 
beholders. But the ministry of the new is a ministry 
of spirit : and who would not argue a fortiori that it 
should appear in glory greater still ? Both the /xaXXov 
("rather"), and the future (e&Tcu), in ver. 8, are logical. 
Paul speaks, to use Bengel's expression, looking for- 
ward as it were from the Old Testament into the New. 
He does not say in what the glory of the new consists. 

tation. An interpretation so common in early times that it might 
fairly be called the patristic, would explain the words as meaning 
that the literal sense of the Scriptures, especially of the Old Testament, 
is fatally misleading, and that we must find what that literal sense 
represents to the laws of allegory, if we would make it a word of 
life (cf. in Rev. xi. 8, " the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom 
and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified "). There is another 
interpretation still, which may be called the literary or practical one. 
According to this, the Apostle means that the spiritual life, whether 
of intelligence or conscience, is strangled by literalism; we must 
regard not words as such, but the spirit and purpose cf their author, 
if we are to have life and progress. This is perfectly true, but 
perfectly irrelevant, and is a good example of the free-and-easy way 
iu which the Bible is quoted by those who do not study it. 


He does not say that it is veiled at present, and will 
be manifested when Christ comes to transfigure His 
own. Even the use of "hope" in ver. 12 does not 
prove this. He leaves it quite indefinite ; and arguing 
from the nature of the two ministries, which has just 
been explained, simply concludes that in glory the new 
must far transcend the old. 

(2) In vv. 9 and 10 he puts a new point upon 
this. " Death " and " life " are here replaced by " con- 
demnation " and "righteousness." It is through con- 
demnation that man becomes the prej' of death ; and the 
grace which reigns in him to eternal life reigns through 
righteousness (Rom. v. 21). The contrast of these 
two words is very significant for Paul's conception of 
the Gospel : it shows how essential to his idea of 
righteousness, how fundamental in it, is the thought 
of acquittal or acceptance with God. Men are bad 
men, sinful men, under God's condemnation ; and he 
cannot conceive a Gospel at all which does not 
announce, at the very outset, the removal of that con- 
demnation, and a declaration in the sinner's favour. 
Perhaps there are other ways of conceiving men, and 
other aspects in which God can come to them as their 
Saviour ; but the Pauline Gospel has proved itself, and 
will always prove itself anew, the Gospel for the sinful, 
who know the misery of condemnation and despair. 
Mere pardon, as it has been called, may be a meagre 
conception, but it is that without which no other 
Christian conception can exist for a moment. That 
which lies at the bottom of the new covenant, and 
supports all its magnificent promises and hopes, is this : 
" I will forgive their iniquities, and I will remember 
their sins no more." If we could imagine this taken 
away, what were left ? Of course the righteousness 

iii.4-u.] THE TWO COVENANTS 133 

which the Gospel proclaims is more than pardon ; it 
is not exhausted when we say it is the opposite of 
condemnation ; but unless we feel that the very nerve 
of it lies in the removal of condemnation, we shall never 
understand the New Testament tone in speaking of it. 
It is this which explains the joyous rebound of the 
Apostle's spirit whenever he encounters the subject , 
he remembers the black cloud, and now there is clear 
shining; he was under sentence then, but now he is 
justified by faith, and has peace with God. He cannot 
exaggerate the contrast, nor the greater glory of the 
new state. Granting that the ministry of condemnation 
had its glory — that the revelation of law "had an 
austere majesty of its own " — does not the ministry of 
righteousness, the Gospel which annulled the condemna- 
tion and restored man to peace with God, overflow 
with glory ? When he thinks of it, he is tempted to 
withdraw the concession he has made. We may call 
the old dispensation and its ministry glorious if we 
like; they are glorious when they stand alone; but 
when comparison is made with the new, 1 they are not 
glorious at all. The stars are bright till the moon 
rises ; the moon herself reigns in heaven till her 
splendour pales before the sun; but when the sun 
shines in his strength, there is no other glory in the 
sky. All the glories of the old covenant have vanished 
for Paul in the light which shines from the Cross and 
from the Throne of Christ. 

(3) A final superiority belongs to the new dispensa- 
tion and its ministry as compared with the old — the 

1 Chrysostoni explains iv roirif rip fitpei by (carA rbv rrp avyKplattn 
X67W, and this is substantially right. But I think the words merely 
anticipate tivtuev tjjs iure/>/3a?i\oi;<r?)S 56i--r)t. 


superiority of permanence to transiency. " If that 
which passeth away was with glory, much more that 
which remaineth is in glory." The verbs here are 
supplied by the translators, but one may question 
whether the contrast of past and present was so definite 
in the Apostle's mind. I think not, and the reference 
to Moses' face does not prove that it was. All through 
these comparisons St. Paul expresses himself with the 
utmost generality; logical and ideal, not temporal, 
relations, dominate his thoughts. The law was given in 
glory (iyevrfdrj kv ho%y, ver. 7) — there is no dispute about 
that ; but what the eleventh verse makes prominent 
is that while glory is the attendant or accompaniment 
of the transient, it is the element of the permanent 
The law is indeed of God ; it has a function in the 
economy of God ; it is at the very lowest a negative 
preparation for the Gospel ; it shuts men up to the 
acceptance of God's mercy. In this respect the glory 
on Moses' face represents the real greatness which 
belongs to the law as a power used by God in the 
working out of His loving purpose. But at the best 
the law only shuts men up to Christ, and then its work 
is done. The true greatness of God is revealed, and 
with it His true glory, once for all, in the Gospel. 
There is nothing beyond the righteousness of God, 
manifested in Christ Jesus, for the acceptance of faith. 
That is God's last word to the world : it has absorbed 
in it even the glory of the law ; and it is bright for 
ever with a glory above all other. It is God's chief 
end to reveal this glory in the Gospel, and to make 
men partakers of it ; it has been so always, is so still, 
and ever shall be; and in the consciousness that he 
has seen and been saved by the eternal love of God, 
and is now a minister of it, the Apostle claims this 


finality of the new covenant as its crowning glory. 
The law, like the lower gifts of the Christian life, 
passes away ; but the new covenant abides, for it is 
the revelation of love— that love which is the being 
and the glory of God Himself. 

These qualities of the Christian dispensation, which 
constitute its newness, are too readily lost sight of. It 
is hard to appreciate and to live up to them, and hence 
they are always lapsing out of view, and requiring to 
be rediscovered. In the first age of Christianity there 
were many myriads of Jews, the Book of Acts tells us, 
who had very little sense of the newness of the Gospel ; 
they were exceedingly zealous for the law, even for 
the letter of all its ritual prescriptions : Paul and his 
spiritual conception of Christianity were their bugbear. 
In the first half of the second century the religion even 
of the Gentile Churches had already become more 
legal than evangelical ; there was wanting any sufficient 
apprehension of the spirituality, the freedom, and the 
newness of Christianity as opposed to Judaism ; and 
though the reaction of Marcion, who denied that there 
was any connexion whatever between the Old Testa- 
ment and the New, went to a false and perverse 
extreme, it was the natural, and in its motives the 
legitimate, protest of spirit and life against letter and 
law. The Reformation in the sixteenth century was 
essentially a movement of similar character : it was the 
rediscovery of the Pauline Gospel, or of the Gospel in 
those characteristics of it which made Paul's heart leap 
for joy — its justifying righteousness, its spirituality, its 
liberty. In a Protestant scholasticism this glorious 
Gospel has again been lost oftener than once ; it is 
lost when " a learned ministry " deals with the New 
Testament writings as the scribes dealt with the Old ; 


it is lost also — for extremes meet — when an unlearned 
piety swears by verbal, even by literal, inspiration, and 
takes up to mere documents an attitude which in 
principle is fatal to Christianity. It is in the life of 
the Church — especially in that life which communicates 
itself, and makes the Christian community what the 
Jewish never was, essentially a missionary community — 
that the safeguard of all these high characteristics lies. 
A Church devoted to learning, or to the maintenance 
of a social or political position, or even merely to the 
cultivation of a type of character among its own 
members, may easily cease to be spiritual, and lapse 
into legal religion : a Church actively engaged in pro- 
pagating itself never can. It is not with the " letter M 
one can hopefully address unbelieving men ; it is only 
with the power of the Holy Spirit at work in the heart ; 
and where the Spirit is, there is liberty. None are so 
" sound " on the essentials of the faith as men with the 
truly missionary spirit ; but at the same time none are 
bo completely emancipated, and that by the self-same 
Spirit, from all that is not itself spiritual. 



" Having therefore such a hope, we use great boldness of speech, 
and are not as Moses, who put a veil upon his face, that the children 
of Israel should not look stedfastly on the end of that which was 
passing away: but their minds were hardened: for until this very 
day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remaineth un- 
lifted; which veil is done away in Christ. But unto this day, when- 
soever Moses is read, a veil lieth upon their heart. But whensoever 
it shall turn to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is 
the Spirit : and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But 
we all, with unveiled face reflecting as a mirror the glory of the 
Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even 
as from the Lord the Spirit."— 2 Cor. iii. 12 18 (R.V.). 

THE "hope" which here explains the Apostle's 
freedom of speech is to all intents and purposes 
the same as the " confidence " in ver. 4. 1 It is much 
easier to suppose that the word is thus used with a 
certain latitude, as it might be in English, than to force 
upon it a reference to the glory to be revealed when 
Christ comes again, and to give the same future re- 
ference to "glory" all through this passage. The 
new covenant is present, and present in its glory ; and 
though it has a future, with which the Apostle's hope 
is bound up, it is not in view of its future only, it is 

1 In the LXX. i\irtfa is often used as the rendering of H^3 eon- 



because of what it is even now, that he is so grandly 
confident, and uses such boldness of speech. It is 
quite fair to infer from chap. iv. 3 — "if our Gospel is 
veiled, it is veiled in those that are perishing " — that 
Paul's opponents at Corinth had charged him with 
behaviour of another kind. They had accused him 
of making a mystery of his Gospel — preaching it in 
such a fashion that no one could really see it, or 
understand what he meant. If there is any charge 
which the true preacher will feel keenly, and resent 
vehemently, it is this. It is his first duty to deliver 
his message with a plainness that defies misunder- 
standing. He is sent to all men on an errand of life 
or death ; and to leave any man wondering, after the 
message has been delivered, what it is about, is the 
worst sort of treachery. It belies the Gospel, and 
God who is its author. It may be due to pride, or 
to a misguided intention to commend the Gospel to 
the wisdom or the prejudices of men ; but it is never 
anything else than a fatal mistake. 

Paul not only resents the charge ; he feels it so 
acutely that he finds an ingenious way of retorting it 
"We," he says, " the ministers of the new covenant, we 
who preach life, righteousness, and everlasting glory, 
have nothing to hide ; we wish every one to know 
everything about the dispensation which we serve. It 
is the representatives of the old who are really open 
to the charge of using concealment ; the first and the 
greatest of them all, Moses himself, put a veil on his 
face, that * the children of Israel should not look sted- 

1 Attempts have been made to render irpbs rb (if) dreWcrai other- 
wise: t.g., rpit has been taken as in Mat. xix. 8, which would 
give the meaning, "considering that the children of Israel did not 


fastly on the end of that which was passing away. 
The glory on his face was a fading glory, because it 
was the glory of a temporary dispensation ; but he 
did not wish the Israelites to see clearly that it was 
destined to disappear; so he veiled his face, and left 
them to think the law a permanent divine institution." 

Perhaps the best thing to do with this singular 
interpretation is not to take it too seriously. Even 
sober expositors like Chrysostom and Calvin have 
thought it necessary to argue gravely that the Apostle 
is not accusing the law, or saying anything insulting of 
Moses ; while Schmiedel, on the other hand, insists 
that a grave moral charge is made against Moses, and 
that Paul most unjustly uses the Old Testament, in 
its own despite, to prove its own transitoriness. I 
believe it would be far truer to say that the character 
of Moses never crossed Paul's mind in the whole 
passage, for better or worse ; he only remembered, as 
he smarted under the accusation of veiling his Gospel 
of the new covenant, a certain transaction under the 
old covenant in which a veil did figure — a transaction 
which a Rabbinical interpretation, whimsical indeed to 
us, but provoking if not convincing to his adversaries, 
enabled him to turn against them. As for proving 
the transitoriness of the Old Testament by a forced and 
illegitimate argument, that transitoriness was abund- 
antly established to Paul, as it is to us, on real grounds ; 
nothing whatever depends on what is here said of 
Moses and the veil. It is not necessary, if we take 
this view, to go into the historical interpretation of the 

look on," etc. Moses would thus veil himself in view of the fact that 
they did not see : the veil would be the symbol of the judicial blind- 
ness which was henceforth to fall on them. 


passage in Exod. xxxiv. 29-35. The comparison of the 
Apostle with the Old Testament writer has been made 
more difficult for the English reader by the serous 
error in the Authorised Version of Exod. xxxiv. 33. 
Instead of " till Moses had done speaking with them," 
we ought to read, as in the Revised Version, " when 
Moses had done speaking." This exactly reverses the 
meaning. Moses spoke to the people with face bare 
and radiant ; the glory was to be visible at least in his 
official intercourse with them, or whenever he spoke for 
God. At other times he wore the veil, putting it off, 
however, when he went into the tabernacle — that is, 
whenever he spoke with God. In all divine relations, 
then, we should naturally infer, there was to be the open 
and shining face ; in other words, so far as he acted as 
mediator of the old covenant, Moses really acted in the 
spirit of Paul. It would therefore have been unjust in 
the Apostle to charge him with hiding anything, if the 
charge had really meant more than this — that Paul saw 
in his use of the veil a symbol of the fact that the 
children of Israel did not see that the old covenant 
was transitory, and that its glory was to be lost in that 
of the new. No one can deny that this was the fact, 
and no one therefore need be exercised if Paul pictured 
it in the manner of his own time and race, and not in 
the manner of ours. To suppose that he means to 
charge Moses with a deliberate act of dishonesty is to 
suppose what no sensible person will ever credit ; and 
we may return, without more ado, to the painful 
situation which he contemplates. 

Their minds were hardened. This is stated historic- 
ally, and seems to refer in the first instance to those 
who watched Moses put on the veil, and became 
insensible, as he did so, to the nature of the old 


covenant. But it is applicable to the Jewish race 
at all periods of their history ; they never discovered 
the secret which Moses hid from their forefathers 
beneath the veil. The only result that followed the 
labours even of great prophets like Isaiah had been 
the deepening of the darkness ; having eyes the people 
saw not, having ears they heard not ; their heart was 
fat and heavy, so that they did not apprehend the ways 
of God nor turn to Him. All around him the Apostle 
saw the melancholy evidence that there had been no 
change for the better. Until this day the same veil 
remains, when the Old Testament is read, 1 not taken 
away ; for it is only undone in Christ, and of Christ 
they will know nothing. He repeats the sad statement, 
varying it slightly to indicate that the responsibility 
for a condition so blind and dreary rests not with the 
old covenant itself, but with those who live under it. 
" Until this day, I say, whensoever Moses is read, a 
veil lies upon their heart." 

This witness, we must acknowledge, is almost as 
true in the nineteenth century as in the first. The 
Jews still exist as a race and a sect, acknowledging 
the Old Testament as a revelation from God, basing 
their religion upon it, keeping their ancient law so far 
as circumstances enable them to keep it, not convinced 
that as a religious constitution it has been superseded 
by a new one. Many of them, indeed, have abandoned 
it without becoming Christians. But in so doing they 
have become secularists ; they have not appreciated the 
old covenant to the full, and then outgrown it; they 

1 I cannot suppose that iirl tJ Ajwyruioet ttjj ir. 5ta0i}j»|i means 
anything different from iivUa. 4» foayivuxruiiTcu MwuffTjs. It conveys 
no sense, that I can see, to say that there are two veils, one upon the 
reading, and another upon the heart. Yet many take it so. 


have been led for various reasons to deny that there 
ever was anything divine in it, and have renounced 
together its discipline and its hopes. Only where the 
knowledge of the Christ has been received is the veil 
which lies upon their hearts taken away; they can 
then appreciate both all the virtues of the ancient 
dispensation and all its defects ; they can glorify God 
for what it was and for what it shut them up to ; they 
can see that in all its parts it had a reference to 
something lying beyond itself— to a " new thing " that 
God would do for His people ; and in welcoming the 
new covenant, and its Mediator Jesus Christ, they 
can feel that they are not making void, but establishing, 
the law. 

This is their hope, and to this the Apostle looks in 
ver. 1 6 : H But whensoever it shall turn to the Lord, 
the veil is taken away." The Greek expression of this 
passage is so closely modelled on that of Exod. xxxiv. 34, 
that Westcott and Hort print it as a quotation. Moses 
evidently is still in the Apostle's mind. The veiling 
of his face symbolised the nation's blindness; the 
nation's hope is to be seen in that action in which 
Moses way unveiled. He uncovered his face when he 
turned from the people to speak to God. " Even so," 
says the Apostle, " when they turn to the Lord, the veil 
of which we have been speaking is taken away, 1 and 
they see clearly." 1 One can hardly avoid feeling in 

» The present, where we might expect the future, conveys the 
certainty and decisiveness of the result. 

* The subject of the verb inarpi^ ("turn") is not in point of 
grammar very clear. It may be Israel, or the heart on which a veil 
lies, or any one, taken indefinitely. Practically, the application is 
limited to those who live under the old covenant, and yet have its 
nature hidden from them. Hence it is fair to render, as I have done 
M when thty turn to the Lord." ' 


this a reminiscence of the Apostle's own conversion. 
He is thinking not only of the unveiling of Moses, but 
of the scales which fell from his own eyes when he 
was baptised in the name of Jesus, and was filled with 
the Holy Ghost, and saw the old covenant and its 
glory lost and fulfilled in the new. He knew how 
stupendous was the change involved here ; it meant 
a revolution in the whole constitution of the Jews' 
spiritual world as vast as that which was wrought 
in the natural world when the sun supplanted the 
earth as the centre of our system. But the gain 
was corresponding. The soul was delivered from an 
impasse. Under the old covenant, as bitter experi- 
ence had shown him, the religious life had come to 
a dead-lock ; the conscience was confronted with a 
torturing, and in its very nature insoluble, problem : 
man, burdened and enslaved by sin, was required to 
attain to a righteousness which should please God. 
The contradictions of this position were solved, its 
mystery was abolished, when the soul turned to the 
Lord, and appropriated by faith the righteousness and 
life of God in him. The old covenant found its place, 
an intelligible and worthy though subordinate place, 
in the grand programme of redemption; the strife 
between the soul and God, between the soul and the 
conditions of existence, ceased ; life opened out again ; 
there was a large room to move in, an inspiring power 
within ; in one word, there was spiritual life and 
liberty, and Christ was the author of it all. 

This is the force of the seventeenth verse : " Now tht 
Lord is the Spirit : and where the Spirit of the Lord is, 
there is liberty." The Lord, of course, is Christ, and 
the Spirit is that of which Paul has already spoken in 
the sixth verse. It is the Holy Spirit, the Lord and 


Giver of life under the new covenant. He who turns 
to Christ receives this Spirit; it is through it that 
Christ dwells hi His people ; what are called " fruits 
of the Spirit " are traits of Christ's own character which 
the Spirit produces in the saints ; practically, therefore, 
the two may be identified, and hence the expression 
" the Lord is the Spirit," though startling at first sight, 
is not improper, and ought not to mislead. 1 It is a 
mistake to connect it with such passages as Rom. i. 4, 
and to draw inferences from it as to Paul's conception 
of the person of Christ. He does not say " the Lord 
is spirit," but " the Lord is the Spirit " ; what is in view 
is not the person of Christ so much as His power. 
To identify the Lord and the Spirit without qualifica- 
tion, in the face of the benediction in chap. xiii. 14, 
is out of the question. The truth of the passage is the 
same as that of Rom. viii. 9 ff. : " If any man have not 
the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His. And if Christ 
is in you" etc. Here, so far as the practical experience 
of Christians goes, no distinction is made between the 
Spirit of Christ and Christ Himself; Christ dwells in 
Christians through His Spirit. The very same truth, 
as is well known, pervades the chapters in the Fourth 
Gospel in which Christ consoles His disciples for His 
departure from this world ; He will not leave them 
orphans — He will come to them, and remain with them 
in the other Comforter. To turn to Christ, the Apostle 
wishes to assert with the utmost emphasis, is not to 
do a thing which has no virtue and no consequences; 
it is to turn to one who has received of the Father the 

1 The peculiarity of the passage has given occasion to conjectures, 
of which by far the most ingenious is Baljon's : 05 Si 6 Kipiot, t& 
UVeC/ud iarw, oh Si to n>ei//ia Kvpiov, iXtvOepla : " Where the Lord is, 
the Spirit is ; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." 


gift of the Holy Ghost, and who immediately -sets up 
the new spiritual life, which is nothing less than His 
own life, by that Spirit, in the believing soul. And 
summing up in one word the grand characteristic artd 
distinction of the new covenant, as realised by this 
indwelling of Christ through His Spirit, he concludes : 
" And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." 
In the interpretation of the last word, we must have 
respect to the context ; liberty has its meaning in 
contrast with that state to which the old covenant 
had reduced those who adhered to it It means freedom 
from the law ; freedom, fundamentally, from its con- 
demnation, thanks to the gift of righteousness in 
Christ; freedom, also, from its letter, as something 
simply without us and over against us. No written 
word, as such, can ever be pleaded against the voice 
of the Spirit within. Even the words we call in an 
eminent sense "inspired," words of the Spirit, are 
subject to this law: they do not put a limit to the 
liberty of the spiritual man. He can overrule the 
letter of them when the literal interpretation or applica- 
tion would contravene the spirit which is common both 
to them and him. This principle is capable of being 
abused, no doubt, and by bad men and fanatics has 
been abused ; but its worst abuses can hardly have 
done more harm than the pedantic word-worship which 
has often lost the soul even of the New Testament, 
and read the words of the Lord and His Apostles with 
a veil upon its face through which nothing could be 
seen. There is such a thing as an unspiritual scrupu- 
losity in dealing with the New Testament, now that 
we have it in documentary form, just as there used to 
be in dealing with the Old ; and we ought to remind 
ourselves continually that the documentary form is an 


accident, not an essential, of the new covenant. That 
covenant existed, and men lived under it and enjoyed 
its blessings, before it had any written documents at 
all ; and we shall not appreciate its characteristics, and 
especially this one of its spiritual freedom, unless 
we put ourselves occasionally, in imagination, in their 
place. It is far easier to make Paul mean too little 
than too much ; and the liberty of the Spirit in which 
he exults here covers, we may be sure, not only liberty 
from condemnation, and liberty from the unspiritual 
yoke of the ritual law, but liberty from all that is in 
its nature statutory, liberty to organise the new life, 
and to legislate for it, from within. 

The bearing of this passage on the religious blind- 
ness of the Jews ought not to hide from us its per- 
manent application. The religious insensibility of his 
countrymen will cease, Paul says ; their religious 
perplexities will be solved, when they turn to Christ. 
This is the beginning of all intelligence, of all freedom, 
of all hope, in things spiritual. Much of the religious 
doubt and confusion of our own times is due to the pre- 
occupation of men's minds with religion at points from 
which Christ is invisible. But it is He who is the 
key to alt human experiences as well as to the Old 
Testament ; it is He who answers the questions of the 
world as well as the questions of the Jews ; it is He 
who takes our feet out of the net, opens the gate of 
righteousness before us, and gives us spiritual freedom. 
It is like finding a pearl of great price when the soul 
discovers this, and to point it out to others is to do 
them a priceless service. Disregard everything else in 
the meantime, if you are bewildered, baffled, in bonds 
which you cannot break; turn to Jesus Christ, as 
Moses turned to God. with face uncovered ; put down 


prejudice, preconceptions, pride, the disposition to make 
demands; only look stedfastly till you see what He 
is, and all that perplexes you will pass away, or appear 
in a new light, and serve a new and spiritual purpose. 

Something like this larger application of his words 
passed, we may suppose, before the Apostle's mind 
when he wrote the eighteenth verse. In the grandeur 
of the truth which rises upon him he forgets his con- 
troversy and becomes a poet. We breathe the ampler 
ether, the diviner air, as we read : " But we all, with 
unveiled face beholding as in a glass the glory of the 
Lord, are transformed into^the same image from glory 
to glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit." I have kept 
here for KaTOTrrpi^ofievoi the rendering of the Authorised 
Version, which in the Revised has been relegated to 
the margin, and replaced by " reflecting as a mirror." 
There do not seem to be sufficient grounds for the 
change, and the old translation is defended in Grimm's 
Lexicon, in Winer's Grammar, and by Meyer, Heinrici, 
and Beet. The active voice of the verb KaroTnpl^a 
means "to exhibit in a mirror"; and the middle, "to 
mirror oneself" — i.e., " to look at oneself in a mirror." 
This, at least, is the sense of most of the examples of 
the middle which are found in Greek writers ; but as 
it is quite inapplicable here, the question of interpreta- 
tion becomes rather difficult. It is, however, in accord- 
ance with analogy to say that if the active means " to 
show in a mirror," the middle means " to get shown to 
one in a mirror," or, as the Authorised Version puts it, 
" to behold in a mirror." I cannot make out that any 
analogy favours the new rendering, "reflecting as a 
mirror " ; and the authority of Chrysostom, which 
would otherwise be considerable on this side, is less- 
ened by the fact that he seems never to have raised 


the question, and in point of fact combines both render- 
ings. 1 His illustration of the polished silver lying in 
the sunshine, and sending back the rays which strike 
it, is in favour of the change ; but when he writes, 
"We not only look upon the glory of God, but also 
catch thence a kind of radiance," he may fairly be 
claimed for the other side. There are two reasons also 
which seem to me to have great weight in favour of 
the old rendering : first, the expression " with unveiled 
face," which, as Meyer remarks, is naturally of a piece 
with " beholding " ; and, second, an unequivocal example 
of the middle voice of KaTompXpiiat, in the sense of 
" seeing," while no unequivocal example can be pro- 
duced for " reflecting." This example is found in 
Philo i. 107 {Leg. Allege iii. 33), where Moses prays 
to God : " Show not Thyself to me through heaven or 
earth, or water or air, or anything at all that comes 
into being ; nor let me see Thy form mirrored in any 
other thing than in Thee, even in God " (MrjSe iccnoir- 
TpuraifiTju iv aXXw rtvl rfjv <rr)v ISiav tj iu col tu> ©e<p). 
This seems to me decisive, and there is the less reason 
to reject it on other than linguistic grounds, when we 
consider that the idea of " reflecting," if it is given up 
in KaroTTTpi^ofievoi, is conserved in fierafiop^ovfieda. 
The transformation has the reflection of Christ's glory 
for its effect, not for its cause; but the reflection, 
eventually, is there. 

Assuming, then, that " beholding as in a glass " is 
the right interpretation of this hard word, let us go on 
to what the Apostle says. " We all " probably means 
** all Christians," and not only " all Christian teachers." 

1 Hotn. vii. on 2 Cor., p. 486, E. : 0i5 p6vw &pQ/xet> els tV Si'i^uy roO 
6eo0, dAXi iced iictXBev Sexi/tcOi rwa aXfXrjr. 


If there is a comparison implied, it is between the two 
dispensations, and the experiences open to those who 
lived under them, not between the mediator of the old 
and the heralds of the new. Under the old covenant 
one only saw the glory ; now the beatific vision is open 
to all. We all behold it " with unveiled face." There 
is nothing on Christ's part that leads to disguise, and 
nothing on ours that comes between us and Him. 
The darkness is past, the true light already shines, and 
Christian souls cannot look on it too fixedly, or drink 
it in to excess. But what is meant by *' the glory of 
the Lord " on which we gaze with face unveiled ? 

It will not be questioned, by those who are at home 
in St. Paul's thoughts, that "the Lord" means the 
exalted Saviour, and that the glory must be something 
which belongs to Him. Indeed, if we remember that 
in the First Epistle, chap. ii. 8, He is characteristically 
described by the Apostle as " the Lord of glory," we 
shall not feel it too much to say that the glory is every- 
thing which belongs to Him. There is not any aspect 
of the exalted Christ, there is not any representation of 
Him in the Gospel, there is not any function which He 
exercises, that does not come under this head. " In 
His temple everything saith Glory I " There is a glory 
even in the mode of His existence : St. Paul's concep- 
tion of Him is dominated always by that appearance 
on the way to Damascus, when he saw the Christ 
through a light above the brightness of the sun. It 
is His glory that He shares the Father's throne, 1 that 
He is head of the Church, possessor and bestower of 
all the fulness of divine grace, the coming Judge of 
the world, conqueror of every hostile power, inter- 

* So Meyer, from whom the particulars in this sentence are taken. 


cessor for His own, and, in short, bearer of all the 
majesty which belongs to His kingly office. The essen- 
tial thing in all this — essential to the understanding of 
the Apostle, and to the existence of the apostolic " Gospel 
of the glory of Christ" (chap. iv. 4) — is that the glory in 
question is the glory of a Living Person. When Paul 
thinks of it, he does not look back, he looks up; he 
does not remember, he beholds in a glass ; the glory 
of the Lord has no meaning for him apart from the 
present exaltation of the Risen Christ. "The Lord 
reigneth ; He is apparelled with majesty " — that is the 
anthem of His praise. 

I have insisted on this, because, in a certain reaction 
from what was perhaps an exaggerated Paulinism, there 
is a tendency to misapply even the most characteristic 
and vital passages in St. Paul's Gospel, and pre- 
eminently to misapply passages like this. Nothing 
could be more misleading than to substitute here for 
the glory of the exalted Christ as mirrored in the 
apostolic Gospel that moral beauty which was seen in 
Jesus of Nazareth. Of course 1 do not mean to deny 
that the moral loveliness of Jesus is glorious ; nor do 
I question that in the contemplation of it in the pages 
of our Gospels — subject to one grand condition — a trans- 
forming power is exercised through it ; but I do deny 
that any such thing was in the mind of St. Paul. The 
subject of the Apostle's Gospel was not Jesus the car- 
penter of Nazareth, but Christ the Lord of glory ; men, 
as he understood the matter, were saved, not by dwell- 
ing on the wonderful words and deeds of One who 
had lived some time ago, and reviving these in their 
imagination, but by receiving the almighty, emancipat- 
ing, quickening Spirit of One who lived and reigned 
fx r r-vermore. The transformation here spoken of is 


not the work of a powerful imagination, which can make 
the figure in the pages of the Gospels live again, and 
suffuse the soul with feeling as it gazes upon it ; preach 
this as gospel who will, it was never preached by an 
apostle of Jesus Christ. It is the work of the Spirit, 
and the Spirit is given, not to the memory or imagina- 
tion which can vivify the past, but to the faith which 
sees Christ upon His throne. And it is subject to the 
condition of faith in the living Christ that contemplation 
of Jesus in the Gospels changes us into the same image. 
There can be no doubt that at the present time many 
are falling back upon this contemplation in a despairing 
rather than a believing mcod ; what they seek and find 
in it is rather a poetic consolation than religious inspira- 
tion ; their faith in the living Christ is gone, or is so 
uncertain as to be practically of no saving power, and 
they have recourse to the memory of what Jesus was 
as at least something to cling to. " We thought that 
it had been He which should have delivered Israel." 
But surely it is as clear as day that in religion — in the 
matter of redemption — we must deal, not with the dead, 
but with the living. Paul may have known less or 
more of the contents of our first three Gospels ; he may 
have valued them more or less adequately ; but just 
because he had been saved by Christ, and was preaching 
Christ as a Saviour, the centre of his thoughts and 
affections was not Galilee, but " the heavenlies." There 
the Lord of glory reigned ; and from that world He 
sent the Spirit which changed His people into His 
image. And so it must always be, if Christianity is to 
be a living religion. Leave out this, and not only is 
the Pauline Gospel lost, but everything is lost which 
could be called Gospel in the New Testament. 

The Lord of glory, Paul teaches here, is the pattern 


and prophecy of a glory to be revealed in us ; and as 
we contemplate Him in the mirror of the Gospel, 1 we 
are gradually transformed into the same image, even as 
by the Lord the Spirit. The transformation, these last 
words again teach, is not accomplished by beholding, 
but while we behold ; it does not depend on the 
vividness with which we can imagine the past, but 
on the present power of Christ working in us. The 
result is such as befits the operation of such a power. 
We are changed into the image of Him from whom 
it proceeds. We are made like Himself. It may seem 
far more natural to say that the believer is made like 
Jesus of Nazareth, than that he is made like the Lord 
of glory ; but that does not entitle us to shift the centre 
of gravity in the Apostle's teaching, and it only tempts 
us to ignore one of the most prominent and enviable 
characteristics of the New Testament religious life. 
Christ is on His throne, and His peopte are exalted and 
victorious in Him. When we forget Christ's exaltation 
in our study of His earthly life — when we are so pre- 
occupied, it may even be so fascinated, with what He 
was, that we forget what He is — when, in other words, 
a pious historical imagination takes the place of a 
living religious faith — that victorious consciousness is lost, 
and in a most essential point the image of the Lord 
is not reproduced in the believer. This is why the 
Pauline point of view — if indeed it is to be called 
Pauline, and not simply Christian — is essential. Christi- 
anity is a religion, not merely a history, though it 
should be the history told by Matthew, Mark, and 
Luke; and the chance of having the history itself 

1 The idea of the mirror is not to be omitted, as of no consequence. 
It is essential to the figure : " we see not yet face to face." 


appreciated for religion is that He who is its subject 
shall be contemplated, not in the dim distance of the 
past, but in the glory of His heavenly reign, and that 
He shall be recognised, not merely as one who lived 
a perfect life in His own generation, but as the Giver 
of life eternal by His Spirit to all who turn to Him. 
The Church will always be justified, while recognis- 
ing that Christianity is a historical religion, in giving 
prominence, not to its historicity, but to what makes 
it a religion at all — namely, the present exaltation of 
Christ This involves everything, and determines, as 
St. Paul tells us here, the very form and spirit of her 
own life. 



"Therefore seeing we have this ministry, even as we obtained 
mercy, we faint not: but we have renounced the hidden things of 
shame, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the Word of God 
deceitfully; but by the manifestation of the truth commending our- 
selves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. But and if our 
Gospel is veiled, it is veiled in them that are perishing: in whom the 
god cf this world hath blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that the 
light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, 
should not dawn upon them. For we preach not ourselves, but 
Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. 
Seeing it is God, that said, Light shall shine out of darkness, who 
shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory 
of God in the face of Jesus Christ." — 2 Cor. iv. 1-6 (R.V.). 

IN this paragraph Paul resumes for the last time 
the line of thought on which he had set out at 
chap. iii. 4, and again at chap. iii. 12. Twice he has 
allowed himself to be carried away into digressions, not 
less interesting than his argument ; but now he pro- 
ceeds without further interruption. His subject is the 
New Testament ministry, and his own conduct as a 

" Seeing we have this ministry," he writes, " even as 
we obtained mercy, we faint not." The whole tone of 
the passage is to be triumphant ; above the common j'oy 
of the New Testament it rises, at the close (ver. 16 fF.), 
into a kind of solemn rapture ; and it is characteristic 
of the Apostle that before he abandons himself to the 



swelling tide of exultation, he guards it all with the 
words, " even as we obtained mercy." There was 
nothing so deep down in Paul's soul, nothing so con- 
stantly present to his thoughts, as this great experience. 
No flood of emotion, no pressure of trial, no necessity 
of conflict, ever drove him from his moorings here. 
The mercy of God underlay his whole being ; it kept 
him humble even when he boasted ; even when engaged 
in defending his character against false accusations — 
a peculiarly trying situation — it kept him truly Christian 
in spirit. 

The words may be connected equally well, so far as 
either meaning or grammar is concerned, with what 
precedes, or with what follows. It was a signal proof 
of God's mercy that He had entrusted Paul with the 
ministry of the Gospel ; and it was only what we should 
expect, when one who had obtained such mercy turned 
out a good soldier of Jesus Christ, able to endure hard- 
ship and not faint Those to whom little is forgiven, 
Jesus Himself tells us, love little ; it is not in them for 
Jesus' sake to bear all things, believe all things, hope 
all things, endure all things. They faint easily, and 
are overborne by petty trials, because they have not 
in them that fountain of brave patience — a deep abiding 
sense of what they owe to Christ, and can never, by 
any length or ardour of service, repay. It accuses us, 
not so much of human weakness, as of ingratitude, and 
insensibility to the mercy of God, when we faint in the 
exercise of our ministry. 

" We faint not," says Paul : " we show no weakness. 
On the contrary, we have renounced the hidden things 
of shame, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the 
Word of God deceitfully." The contrast marked by 
aX\a is very instructive : it shows, in the things which 


Paul had renounced, whither weakness leads. It betrays 
men. It compels them to have recourse to arts which 
shame bids them conceal; they become diplomatists 
and strategists, rather than heralds; they manipulate 
their message ; they adapt it to the spirit of the time, 
or the prejudices of their auditors ; they make liberal 
use of the principle of accommodation. When these 
arts are looked at closely, they come to this : the 
minister has contrived to put something of his own 
between his hearers and the Gospel ; the message has 
really not been declared. His intention, of course, 
with all this artifice, is to recommend himself to men ; 
but the method is radically vicious. The Apostle 
shows us a more excellent way. "We have renounced," 
he says, "all these weak ingenuities; and by manifesta- 
tion of the truth commend ourselves to every man's 
conscience in the sight of God." 1 

This is probably the simplest and most complete 
directory for the preaching of the Gospel. The 
preacher is to make the truth manifest. It is implied 
in what has just been said, that one great hindrance 
to its manifestation may easily be its treatment by the 
preacher himself. If he wishes to do anything else at 
the same time, the manifestation will not take effect 
If he wishes, in the very act of preaching, to conciliate 

' Expositors seem to be agreed that in this passage there is a 
reference, more or less definite and particular, to the Judaising 
opponents of St. Paul at Corinth. This may be admitted, but is not 
to be forced. It is forced, e.g., by Schmiedel, who habitually reads 
St. Paul as if (I) he had been expressly accused of everything which 
he says he does not do, and (2) as if he deliberately retorted on his 
opponents every charge he denied. Press this as he does, and whole 
passages of the Epistles become a series of covert insinuations — a 
kind of calumnious conundrums— instead of frank and bona fide state- 
ments of Christian principle. The result condemns the process. 



a class, or an interest ; to create an opinion in favour 
of his own learning, ability, or eloquence ; to enlist 
sympathy for a cause or an institution which is only 
accidentally connected with the Gospel, — the truth will 
not be seen, and it will not tell. The truth, we are 
further taught here, makes its appeal to the conscience ; 
it is there that God's witness in its favour resides. 
Now, the conscience is the moral nature of man, or 
the moral element in his nature ; it is this, therefore, 
which the preacher has to address. Does not this 
involve a certain directness and simplicity of method, 
a certain plainness and urgency also, which it is far 
easier to miss than to find? Conscience is not the 
abstract logical faculty in man, and the preacher's 
business is therefore not to prove, but to proclaim^ 
the Gospel. All he has to do is to let it be seen, and 
the more nakedly visible it is the tetter. His object 
is not to frame an irrefragable argument, but to pro- 
duce an irresistible impression. There is no such 
thing as an argument to which it is impossible for a 
wilful man to make objections ; at least there is no 
such thing in the sphere of Christian truth. Even if 
there were, men would object to it on that very ground. 
They would say that, in matters of this description, 
when logic went too far, it 'amounted to moral intimida- 
tion, and that in the interests of liberty they were 
entitled to protest against it. Practically, this is what 
Voltaire said of Pascal. 1 But there is such a thing as 
an irresistible impression, — an impression made upon 
the moral nature against which it is vain to attempt 
any protest ; an impression, which subdues and holds 
the soul for ever. When the truth is manifested, and 

1 " 11 voulut se servir de la superiority de ce genie, comme les rois de- 
leur puissance ; il crut tout soumettre, et tout abaisser par la force." 


men see it, this is the effect to be looked for; this, 
consequently, is the preacher's aim. In the sight of 
God — that is, acting with absolute sincerity — Paul 
trusted to this simple method to recommend himself 
to men. He brought no letters of introduction from 
others ; he had no artifices of his own ; he held up the 
truth in its unadorned integrity till it told upon the 
conscience of his hearers ; and after that, he needed 
no other witness. The same conversions which 
accredited the power of the message accredited the 
character of him who bore it. 

To this line of argument there is a very obvious 
reply. What, it may be asked, of those on whom " the 
manifestation of the truth " produces no effect ? What 
of those who in spite of all this plain appeal to con- 
science neither see nor feel anything ? It is sadly 
obvious that this is no mere supposition ; the Gospel 
remains a secret, an impotent ineffective secret, to 
many who hear it again and again. Paul faces the 
difficulty without flinching, though the answer is 
appalling. "If our Gospel is veiled (and the melan- 
choly fact cannot he denied), it is veiled in the case 
of the perishing." The fact that it remains hidden 
from some men is their condemnation ; it marks them 
out as persons on the way to destruction. The Apostle 
proceeds to explain himself further. As far as the 
rationale can be given of what is finally irrational, he 
interprets the moral situation for us. The perishing 
people in question are unbelievers, whose thoughts, 
or minds, the god of this world has blinded. 1 The 

1 Grammarians differ much as to the relation of rwr dirto-raw 
("which believe not") to lr oft ("in whom"). I have no doubt they are 
the same. The natural way for the Apostle to express himself would 
have been : "it is veiled in them that are perishing, whose minds the 

iv. 1-6.] THE GOSPEL DEFINED 149 

intention of this blinding is conveyed in the last words 
of ver. 4 : " that the illumination which proceeds from 
the Gospel, the Gospel of the glory of Christ, who is 
the image of God, may not dawn upon them." 

Let these solemn words appeal to our hearts and 
consciences, before we attempt to criticise them. Let us 
have a due impression of the stupendous facts to which 
they refer, before we raise difficulties about them, or 
say rashly that the expression is disproportioned to 
the truth. To St. Paul the Gospel was a very great 
thing. A light issued from it so dazzling, so over- 
whelming, in its splendour and illuminative power, that 
it might well appear incredible that men should not 
see it. The powers counteracting it, " the world-rulers 
of this darkness," must surely, to judge by their suc- 
cess, have an immense influence. Even more than an 
immense influence, they must have an immense malig- 
nity. For what a blessedness it meant for men, that 
that light should dawn upon them ! What a depriva- 
tion and loss, that its brightness should be obscured I 
Paul's whole sense of the might and malignity of the 
powers of darkness is condensed in the title which he 
here gives to their head — " the god of this world." It is 
literally " of this age," the period of time which extends 
to Christ's coming again. The dominion of evil is not 
unlimited in duration ; but while it lasts it is awful 

god of this world blinded." But he wished to include the moral 
aspect of the case, the side of the personal responsibility of the 
perishing, as of equal significance with the agency of Satan ; and 
this is what he does by adding rdv dirlaruv. Hence, though the 
expression is capable of being grammatically tortured into something 
different (the perishing becoming only a part of the unbelieving — 
so Meyer), it is, by its sheer grammatical awkwardness, exempted 
from liability to such rigorous treatment, and brought under the rules, 
not of grammar, but of common sense. 


in its intensity and range. It does not seem an 
extravagance to the Apostle to describe Satan as the 
god of the present aeon ; and if it seems extravagant 
to us, we may remind ourselves that our Saviour also 
twice speaks of him as " the prince of this world." Who 
but Christ Himself, or a soul like St. Paul in complete 
sympathy with the mind and work of Christ, is capable 
of seeing and feeling the incalculable mass of the 
forces which are at work in the world to defeat the 
Gospel ? What sleepy conscience, what moral medio- 
crity, itself purblind, only dimly conscious of the height 
of the Christian calling, and vexed by no aspira- 
tions toward it, has any right to say that it is too much 
to call Satan " the god of this world " ? Such sleepy 
consciences have no idea of the omnipresence, the 
steady persistent pressure, the sleepless malignity, of 
the evil forces which beset man's life. They have no 
idea of the extent to which these forces frustrate the 
love of God in the Gospel, and rob men of their 
inheritance in Christ. To ask why men should be 
exposed to such forces is another, and here an irrelevant, 
question. What St. Paul saw, and what becomes 
apparent to every one in proportion as his interest in 
evangelising becomes intense, is that evil has a power 
and dominion in the world, which are betrayed, by their 
counteracting of the Gospel, to be purely malignant — 
in other words, Satanic — and the dimensions of which 
no description can exaggerate. Call such powers Satan, 
or what you please, but do not imagine that they are 
inconsiderable. During this age they reign ; they 
have virtually taken what should be God's place in the 

It is the necessary complement of this assertion of 
the malign dominion of evil, when St. Paul tells us that 

ir. 1-6.] THE GOSPEL DEFINED 151 

it is exercised in the case of unbelievers. It is their 
minds which the god of this world has blinded. We 
need not try to investigate more narrowly the relations 
of these two aspects of the facts. We need not say 
that the dominion of evil produces unbelief, though 
this is true (John iii. 18, 19) ; or that unbelief gives 
Satan his opportunity ; or even that unbelief and the 
blindness here referred to are reciprocally cause and 
effect of each other. The moral interests involved 
are protected by the fact that blindness is only pre- 
dicated in the case in which the Gospel has been rejected 
by individual unbelief; and the mere individualism, 
which is the source of so many heresies, doctrinal and 
practical, is excluded by the recognition of spiritual 
forces as operative among men which are far more 
wide-reaching than any individual knows. Nor ought 
we to overlook the suggestion of pity, and even of hope, 
for the perishing, in the contrast between their dark- 
ness and the illumination which the Gospel of the 
glory of Christ lights up. The perishing are not the 
lost ; the unbelievers may yet believe : " in our deepest 
darkness, we know the direction of the light " (Beet). 
Final unbelief would mean final ruin ; but we are 
not entitled to make sense the measure of spiritual 
things, and to argue that because we see men blind 
and unbelieving now they are bound for ever to remain 
so. In preaching the Gospel we must preach with 
hope that the light is stronger than the darkness, and 
able, even at the deepest, to drive it away. Only, 
when we see, as we sometimes will, how dense and 
impenetrable the darkness is, we cannot but cry with 
the Apostle, " Who is sufficient for these things ? " 

This passage is cne of those in which the subject 
of the Gospel is distinctly enunciated : it is the Gos; el 


of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. The 
glory of Christ, or, which is the same thing, Christ 
in His glory, is the sum and substance of it, that which 
gives it both its contents and its character. Paul's 
conception of the Gospel is inspired and controlled 
from beginning to end by the appearance of the Lord 
which resulted in his conversion. In the First Epistle 
to the Corinthians (i. 18, 23), and in the Epistle to the 
Galatians (vi. 14), he seems to find what is essential 
and distinguishing in the Cross rather than the Throne ; 
but this is probably due to the fact that the significance 
of the Cross had been virtually denied by those for 
whom His words are meant. The Christ whom he 
preached had died, and died, as the next chapter will 
make very prominent, to reconcile the world to God ; 
but Paul preached Him as he had seen Him on that 
ever-memorable day ; with all the virtue of His atoning 
death in it, the Gospel was yet the Gospel of His glory. 
It is in the combination of these two that the supreme 
power of the Gospel lies. In the distaste for the super- 
natural which has prevailed so widely, many have 
tried to ignore this, and to get out of the Cross alone 
an inspiration which it cannot yield if severed from 
the Throne. Had the story of Jesus ended with the 
words "suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, 
dead, and buried," it is very certain that these words 
would never have formed part of a Creed — there would 
never have been such a thing as the Christian religion. 
But when these words are combined with what follows 
— " He rose again from the dead on the third day, He 
ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of 
God the Father " — we have the basis which religion 
requires ; we have a living Lord, in whom all the 
redemptive virtue of a sinless life and death is treasured 

iv.i-*.] THE GOSPEL DEFINED 153 

up, and who is able to save to the uttermost all that 
trust Him. It is not the emotions excited by the 
spectacle of the Passion, any more than the admiration 
evoked by the contemplation of Christ's life, that save ; 
it is the Lord of glory, who lived that life of love, and 
in love endured that agony, and who is now enthroned 
at God's right hand. The life and death in one sense 
form part of His glory, in another they are a foil to it ; 
He could not have been our Saviour but for them ; 
He would not be our Saviour unless He had triumphed 
over them, and entered into a glory beyond. 

When the Apostle speaks of Christ as the imag^ 
of God, we must not let extraneous associations with 
this title deflect us from the true line of his thought. 
It is still the Exalted One of whom he is speaking : 
there is no other Christ for him. In that face which 
flashed upon him by Damascus twenty years before, he 
had seen, and always saw, all that man could see of 
the invisible God. It represented for him, and for all 
to whom he preached, the Sovereignty and the Redeem- 
ing Love of God, as completely as man could understand 
them. It evoked those ascriptions of praise which a^ 
Jew was accustomed to offer to God alone. It inspired 
doxologies. When it passed before the inward eye of 
the Apostle, he worshipped : " to Him," he said, " be 
the glory and the dominion for ever and ever." 
Whether the pre-incarnate Son was also the image of 
God, and whether the same title is applicable to Jesus 
of Nazareth, are separate questions. If they are raised, 
they must be answered in the affirmative, with the 
necessary qualifications; but they are quite irrelevant 
here. Much misunderstanding of the Pauline Gospel 
would have been prevented if men could have remem- 
bered that what was only of secondary importance to 


them, and even of doubtful certainty — namely, the 
exaltation of Christ — was itself the foundation of the 
Apostle's Christianity, the one indubitable fact from 
which his whole knowledge of Christ, and his whole 
conception of the Gospel, set forth. Christ on the 
throne was, if one may say so, a more immediate 
certainty to Paul, than Jesus on the banks of the lake, 
or even Jesus on the cross. It may not be natural or 
easy for us to start thus ; but if we do not make the 
effort, we shall involuntarily dislocate and distort the 
whole system of his thoughts. 

In the fourth verse the stress is logically, if not 
grammatically, on Christ. "The Gospel of the glory 
of Christ" I say. " For we preach not ourselves, but 
Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your servants 
for Jesus' sake." Perhaps ambition had been laid to 
Paul's charge ; " the necessity of being first " is one of 
the last infirmities of noble minds. But the Gospel is 
too magnificent to have any room for thoughts of 
self. A proud man may make a nation, or even a 
Church, the instrument or the arena of his pride ; he 
may find in it the field of his ambition, and make it 
subservient to his own exaltation. But the defence 
which Paul has offered of his truthfulness in chap. i. 
is as capable of application here. No one whom Christ 
has seized, subdued, and made wholly His own for ever, 
can practise the arts of self-advancement in Christ's 
service. The two are mutually exclusive. Paul 
preaches Christ Jesus as Lord — the*absolute character 
in which he knows Him ; as for himself, he is every 
man's servant for Jesus' sake. He obtained mercy, 
that he might be found faithful in service : the very 
name of Jesus kills pride in his heart, and makes him 
ready to minister even to the unthankful and evil. 

iv. f-6.] THE GOSPEL DEFINED 155 

This is the force of the " for" with which the sixth 
verse begins. It is as if he had written, " With our 
experience, no other course is possible to us ; for it is 
God, who said, Light shall shine out of darkness, who 
shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge 
of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." But 
the connexion here is of little importance in compari- 
son with the grandeur of the contents. In this verse 
we have the first glimpse of the Pauline doctrine, 
explicitly stated in the next chapter — " that if any man 
be in Christ, he is a new creature." The Apostle finds 
the only adequate parallel to his own conversion in 
that grand creative act in which God brought light, by 
a word, out of the darkness of chaos. It is not forcing 
the figure unduly, nor losing its poetic virtue, to think 
of gloom and disorder as the condition of the soul on 
which the Sun of Righteousness has not risen. Neither 
is it putting any strain upon it to make it suggest that 
only the creative word of God can dispel the darkness, 
and give the beauty of life and order to what was 
waste and void. There is one point, indeed, in which 
the miracle of grace is more wonderful than that of 
creation. God only commanded the light to shine out 
of darkness when time began ; but He shone Himself 
in the Apostle's heart : Ipse lux nostra (Bengel). He 
shone "to give the light of the knowledge of the glory 
of God in the face of Jesus Christ." In that light 
which God flashed into his heart, he saw the face of 
Jesus Christ, and knew that the glory which shone 
there was the glory of God. What these words mean 
has already been explained. In the face of Jesus 
Christ, the Lord of Glory, Paul saw God's Redeeming 
Love upon the throne of the universe ; it had descended 
deeper than sin and death ; it was exalted now above 


all heavens ; it filled all things. That sight he carried 
with him everywhere ; it was his salvation and his 
Gospel, the inspiration of his inmost life, and the 
motive of all his labours. One who owed all this to 
Christ was not likely to make Christ's service the 
theatre of his own ambitions ; he could not do anything 
but take the servant's place, and proclaim Jesus Christ 
as Lord. 

There is a difficulty in the last half of ver. 6 : it is 
not clear what precisely is meant by irphs <f>a)Tio-fibv tj}? 
yvwo-eco? ttj? 86%r]$ rov &eov ac.t.X. By some the 
passage is rendered : God shined in our hearts, " that 
He might bring into the light (for us to see it) the 
knowledge of His glory," etc. This is certainly legiti- 
mate, and strikes me as the most natural interpretation. 
It would answer then to what Paul says in Gal. i. 1 5 f., 
referring to the same event : " It pleased God to reveal 
His Son in me." But others think all this is covered 
by the words " God shined in our hearts," and they take 
7rpo5 (fxoTitrfAov k.t.X., as a description of the apostolic 
vocation : God shined in our hearts, " that we might 
bring into the light (for others to see) the knowledge 
of His glory," etc. The words would then answer to 
what follows in Gal. i. 16 : God revealed His Son in me, 
" that I might preach Him among the heathen." This 
construction is possible, but I think forced. In Paul's 
experience his conversion and vocation wrre uidis- 
solubly connected ; but 7rpo? <po>ri<ru6v k.t.\., fa* wly 
mean one, and the conversion is the likelier. 



" But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the exceeding 
greatness of the power may be of God, and not from ourselves ; w$ 
art pressed on every side, yet not straitened ; perplexed, yet not 
unto despair; pursued, yet not forsaken; smitten down, yet not 
destroyed ; always bearing about in the body the dying of Jesus, 
that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in our body. For we 
which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the 
life also of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then 
death wcrketh in us, but life in you. But having the same spirit of 
faith, according to that which is written, I believed, and therefore 
iid I speak; we also believe, and therefore also we speak; knowing 
that He which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also with 
Jesus, and shall present us with you. For all things art for your 
takes, that the grace, being multiplied through the many, may cause 
the thanksgiving to abound unto the glory of God. 

"Wherefore we faint not; but though our outward man is decay- 
ing, yet our inward man is renewed day by day. For our light 
affliction, which is for the moment, worketh for us more and more 
exceedingly an eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the 
things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen : for the 
things which are seen are temporal ; but the things which are not 
seen are eternal." — 2 Cor. iv. 7-18 (R.V.). 

IN the opening verses of this chapter Paul has 
magnified his office, and his equipment for it. He 
has risen to a great height, poetic and spiritual, in 
speaking of the Lord of glory, and of the light which 
shines from His face for the illumining and redemption 
of men. The disproportion between his- own nature 
and powers, and the high calling to which he has been 



called, flashes across his mind. It is quite possible 
that this disproportion, viewed with a malignant eye,, 
had been made matter of reproach by his adversaries. 
"Who," they may have said, " is this man, who soars 
to such heights, and makes such extraordinary claims ? 
The part does not suit him ; he is quite unequal to it ; 
his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contempt- 
ible." It is possible, further, though I hardly think it 
probable, that the very sufferings Paul endured in his 
apostolic work were cast in his teeth by Jewish teachers 
at Corinth ; they were read by these spiteful inter- 
preters as signs of God's wrath, the judgment of the 
Almighty on a wanton subverter of His law. But 
surely it is not too much to suppose that Paul could 
sometimes think unchallenged. A soul as great and 
as sensitive as his might well be struck by the contrast 
which pervades this passage without requiring to have 
it suggested by the malice of his foes. The interpreta- 
tion which he puts upon the contrast is not merely a 
happy artifice (so Calvin), and still less a tour de force ; 
it is a profound truth, a favourite, if one may say so, 
in the New Testament, and of universal application. 

" We have this treasure," he writes — the treasure of 
the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus 
Christ, including the apostolic vocation to diffuse that 
knowledge — " we have this treasure in earthen vessels, 
that the exceeding greatness of the power [which it 
exercises, and which is exhibited in sustaining us in 
our function] may be seen to be God's, and not from 
us." Earthen vessels are fragile, and what the word 
immediately suggests is no doubt bodily weakness, and 
especially mortality ; but the nature of some of the 
trials referred to in w. 8 and 9 (airopovfievoi, aXX ov/c 
£%airopoviievok) shows that it would be a mistake to 

tv.7-l8.] THE VICTORY OF FAITH 159 

confine the meaning to the body. The earthen vessel 
which holds the priceless treasure of the knowledge 
of God — the lamp of frail ware in which the light of 
Christ's glory shines for the illumination of the world' — 
is human nature as it is ; man's body in its weakness, 
and liability to death ; his mind with its limitations 
and confusions ; his moral nature with its distortions 
and misconceptions, and its insight not yet half re- 
stored. It was not merely in his physique that Paul 
felt the disparity between himself and his calling to 
preach the Gospel of the glory of Christ ; it was in 
his whole being. But instead of finding in this dis- 
parity reason to doubt his vocation, he saw in it an 
illustration of a great law of God. It served to protect 
the truth that salvation is of the Lord. No one who 
saw the exceeding greatness of the power which the 
Gospel exercised — not only in sustaining its preachers 
under persecution, but in transforming human nature, 
and making bad men good — no one who saw this, and 
looked at a preacher like Paul, could dream that the 
explanation lay in him. Not in an ugly little Jew, 
without presence, without eloquence, without the means 
to bribe or to compel, could the source of such courage, 
the cause of such transformations, be found ; it must 
be sought, not in him, but in God. " God hath chosen 
the foolish things of the world to confound the wise ; 
and God hath chosen the weak things of the world 
to confound the things which are mighty ; and base 
things of the world, and things which are despised, 
hath God chosen, vea, and things which are not, to 
bring to nought things which are." And the end of it 
all is that he which glorieth should glory in the Lord. 

This verse is never without its application ; and 
though the contempt of the world did not suggest it 


to St. Paul, it may naturally enough recall it to us. 
One would sometimes think, from the tone of current 
literature, that no person with gifts above contempt is 
any longer identffied with the Gospel. Clever men, we 
are told, do not become preachers now — still less do 
they go to church. They find it impossible to have 
real or sincere intellectual intercourse with Christian 
ministers. Perhaps this is not so alarming as the 
clever people think. There always have b*en men in 
the world so clever that God could make no use of 
them ; they could never do His work, because they 
were so lost in admiration of their own. But God's 
work never depended on them, and it does not depend 
on them now. It depends on those who, when they 
see Jesus Christ, become unconscious, once and for 
ever, of all that they have been used to call their 
wisdom and their strength — on those who are but 
earthen vessels in which another's jewel is kept, lamps 
of clay in which another's light shines. The kingdom 
of God has not changed its administration since 1*fie 
first century ; its supreme law is still the glory of God, 
and not the glory of the clever men ; and we may be 
quite sure it will not change. God will always have 
his work done by instruments who are willing to have 
it clear that the exceeding greatness of the power is 
His, and not theirs. 

The eighth and ninth verses illustrate the contrast 
betw«en Paul's weakness and God's power. In the 
series of participles which the Apostle uses, the earthen 
vessel is represented by the first in each pair, the divine 
power by the second. " We are pressed on every side, 
but not straitened " — i.e., not brought into a narrow 
place from which there is no escape. " We are per- 
plexed, but not unto despair," or, preserving the relation 

iv.7-i8] THE VICTORY OF FAITH i6i 

between the words of the original, "put to it, but not 
utterly put out." This distinctly suggests inward rather 
than merely bodily trials, or at least the inward aspect 
of these : constantly at a loss, the Apostle nevertheless 
constantly finds the solution of his problems. " Pursued, 
but not abandoned " — i.e., not left in the enemy's hands. 
" Smitten down, but not destroyed " : even when trouble 
has done its worst, when the persecuted man has been 
overtaken and struck to the ground, the blow is not 
fatal, and he rises again. All these partial contrasts 
of human weakness and Divine power are condensed 
and concentrated in the tenth verse in one great con- 
trast, the two sides of which are presented in their 
divinely intended relation to each other : " always 
bearing about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the 
life also of Jesus may be manifested in our body." And 
this again, with its mystical poetic aspect, especially in 
the first clause, is reaffirmed and rendered into prose 
in ver. 1 1 : " For we, alive as we are, are ever being 
delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also 
of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh." 

Paul does not say that he bears about in his body 
the death of Jesus (0dvaTo<t), but his dying (i>e«peo<rw, 
mortificatio), the process which produces death. The 
sufferings which come upon him daily in his work for 
Jesus are gradually killing him ; the pains, the perils, 
the spiritual pressure, the excitement of danger and the 
excitement of deliverance, are wearing out his strength, 
and soon he must die. In the very same way Jesus 
Himself had spent His strength and died, and in that 
life of weakness and suffering which was always 
bringing him nearer the grave, Paul felt himself in 
intimate sympathetic communion with his Master: it 
was " the dying of Jesus " that he carried about in hia 


body. But that was not all. In spite of the dying, 
he was not dead. Perpetually in peril, he had a per- 
petual series of escapes ; perpetually at his wits' end, 
his way perpetually opened before him. What was the 
explanation of that? It was the life of Jesus manifest- 
ing itself in his body. The life of Jesus can only mean 
the life which Jesus lives now at God's right hand ; and 
these repeated escapes of the Apostle, these restorations 
of his courage, are manifestations of that life ; they are, 
so to speak, a series of resurrections. Paul's com- 
munion with Jesus is not only in His dying, but in His 
rising again ; he has the evidence of the Resurrection, 
because he has its power, present with him, in these 
constant deliverances and renewals. Nay, the very 
purpose of his sufferings and perils is to provide occa- 
sion for the manifestation of this resurrection life. 
Unless he were exposed to death, God could not deliver 
him from it ; unless he were pressed in the spirit, God 
could not give him relief; there could be no setting off 
of the exceeding greatness of His power in contrast 
with the exceeding frailty of the earthen vessel. The 
use of " body " and of " mortal flesh " in these verses 
has been appealed to in support of an interpretation 
which would limit the meaning to what is merely physi- 
cal : "I am in daily danger of death, God daily delivers 
me from it, and thus the life of Jesus is manifested in 
me." This is of course included in the interpretation 
given above ; but I cannot suppose it is all the Apostle 
meant. The truth is, there is no such thing in the 
passage, or indeed in human life, as a merely physical 
experience. To be delivered to death for Jesus' sake 
is an experience which is at once and indissolubly 
physical and spiritual ; it could not be, unless the soul 
had its part, and that the chief part, in it. To be 

ir. 7-18.] THE VICTORY OF FAITH 163 

delivered from such death is also an experience as 
much spiritual as physical. And in both aspects, and 
not least in the first, is the life of Jesus manifested. 
Nor can I see that it is in the least degree unnatural 
for one who feels this to speak of that life as being 
manifested in his " body," or in his " mortal flesh " ; 
it is a way which all men understand of describing the 
human nature, which is the scene of the manifestation, 
as a frail and powerless thing. 

The moral of the passage is similar to that of chap. i. 
3-1 1. Suffering, for the Christian, is not an accident; 
it is a divine appointment and a divine opportunity. 
To wear life out in the service of Jesus is to open it 
to the entrance of Jesus' life ; it is to receive, in all its 
alleviations, in all its renewals, in all its deliverances, 
a witness to His resurrection. Perhaps it is only by 
accepting this service, with the daily dying it demands, 
that that witness can be given to us ; and " the life of 
Jesus" on His throne may become inapprehensible and 
unreal in proportion as we decline to bear about in our 
bodies His dying. All who have commented on this 
passage have noticed the iteration of the name of Jesus. 
Singulanter sensit Paulus dulcedinem ejus. Schmiedel 
explains the repetition as partly accidental, and partly 
indicative of the fact that Christ's death is here regarded 
as a purely human occurrence, and not as a redemptive 
deed of the Messiah. This points in the right direction, 
though it may fairly be doubted whether Paul would 
have drawn this distinction, or could even have been 
made to understand it. The analytic tendency of the 
modern mind often disintegrates what depends for its 
virtue on being kept whole and entire, and this seems 
to me a case in point. The use of the name Jesus 
rather indicates that, in recalling the actual events of 


his own career, Paul saw them run continually parallel 
to events in the career of Another ; they were one in 
kind with that painful series of incidents which ended 
in the death of the historical Saviour. People have 
often sought in the Epistles of Paul for traces of a 
knowledge of Christ like that which is conserved in the 
first three Gospels ; in this expression, rtjv vixpaxriv 
rov 'Itjo-ov, and in the repetition of the historical proper 
name, there is an indirect but quite convincing proof 
that the general character of Christ's life was known to 
the Apostle. And though he does not dwell on Christ's 
sympathy with the fulness and power of the writer to 
the Hebrews, it is evident from this passage that he 
was in sympathetic fellowship with One who had 
suffered as he suffered, and that even to name His 
human name was consolation. 

In ver. 12 an abrupt conclusion is drawn from all 
that precedes : " So then death worketh in us, but life 
in you." Ironice dictum, is Calvin's comment, and the 
words are at least intelligible if so taken. The stinging 
passage beginning at chap. iv. 8 of the First Epistle 
is ironical in precisely this sense — " We are fools for 
Christ's sake, but ye are wise in Christ ; we are weak, 
but ye are strong ; ye have glory, but we have dis- 
honour " : this is as it were a variation on the theme 
41 death worketh in us, but life in you." Still, the irony 
does not seem in place here : Paul writes in all serious- 
ness that the sufferings which he endures as a preacher 
of the Gospel, and which eventually bring death to 
him — which are the approaches of death, or death itself 
at work — are the means by which life, in the most un- 
qualified sense, comes to be at work in the Corinthians. 
If the death and life which are in view wherever the 
Gospel appears are to be distributed among them, the 

iv.7-i8.] THE VICTORY OF FAITH 165 

death is his, and the life theirs ; the dying of Jesus is 
borne about by the Evangelist, while those who accept 
the message he brings at this cost are made partaker* 
in Jesus' life. 

Not indeed that the contrast can be thus absolute : 
the thirteenth verse corrects this hasty inference. If 
death alone were at work in St. Paul, it would frustrate 
his vocation ; he would not be able to preach at all. 
But he is able to preach. In spite of all the discourage- 
ment which hfs sufferings might beget, his faith remains 
vigorous ; he is conscious of possessing that same 
confidence toward God which animated the ancient 
Psalmist to sing, " I believed, therefore I spoke." " We 
also," he says, " believe, and therefore also we speak." 
What he believes, and what prompts his utterance, we 
read in the thirteenth verse : " We speak, knowing that 
He who raised Jesus shall raise us also like * Jesus, and 
shall present us with you. With you, I say : for the 
whole thing is for your sakes, that the grace, having 
become abundant, may by means of many * cause the 
thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God." 

What an interesting illustration this is of the com- 
munion of the saints 1 Paul recognises a spiritual 
kinsman in the writer of the Psalm ; * faith in God, the 

1 ZiV 'Itjoov is the true reading : sameness of kind is meant, not of 

* Aid tw» r\tt6vup is construed in the R.V. with r\tov&aaaa. (so 
Meyer). De Wette takes it as above ; in the A.V. the Sii. is made to 
govern rty ei5x o /* ffT ' ar - There is no grammatical decision certain 

• The Hebrew Psalm cxvi. 10 is at this precise point practically 
unintelligible, but that does not justify any one in saying that the fine 
thought of the Apostle is utterly foreign to the original text. The 
open confession of God, as a duty of faith, pervades the psalm from 
this point to the end (the verses beginning "Errivrevea Sid ^XdXijira 
make a psalm by themselves in the LXX.). 


power which faith confers, the obligations which faith 
imposes, are the same in all ages. He recognises 
spiritual kinsmen in the Corinthians also. All his 
sufferings have their interest in view, and it is part of 
his joy, as he looks on to the future, that when God 
raises him from the dead, as He raised His own Son, 
He will present him along with them. Their unity 
will not be dissolved by death. The word here rendered 
"present" has often a technical sense in Paul's Epistles; 
it is almost appropriated to the presenting of men before 
the judgment-seat of Christ. Good scholars insist on 
that meaning here; but even with the proviso that accept- 
ance in the judgment is taken for granted, I cannot feel 
that it is quite congruous. There is such a thing as 
presentation to a sovereign as well as to a judge — the 
presenting of the bride to the bridegroom on the wedding 
day as well as of the criminal to the justice — and it 
is the great and glad occasion which answers to the 
feeling in the Apostle's mind. The communion of the 
saints, in virtue of which his sufferings bring blessing 
to the Corinthians, has its issue in the joyful union of 
all before the throne. As Paul thinks of that, he sees 
an end in the Gospel lying beyond the blessing it brings 
to men. That end is God's glory. The more he toils 
and suffers, the more God's grace is made known 
and received ; and the more it is received, the more 
does it cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory 
of God. 

Two practical reflections present themselves here, 
nearly related to each other. The first is that faith 
naturally speaks ; the second, that grace merits thanks- 
giving. Put the two into one, and we may say that 
grace received by faith merits articulate thanksgiving. 
Much modern faith is inarticulate, and it is far too 

iv. 7-18.] THE VICTORY OF FAITH 167 

soothing to be true if we say, Better so. Of course the 
utterance of faith is not prescribed to it ; to be of any 
value it must be spontaneous. Not all the believing are 
to be teachers and preachers, but all are to be con- 
fessors. Every one who has faith has a witness to 
bear to God. Every one who has accepted God's grace 
by faith has a thankful acknowledgment of it to make, 
and at some time or other to make in words. It is 
not the faculty of speech that is wanting where this is 
not done ; it is courage and gratitude ; it is the same 
Spirit of faith which prompted the Psalmist and St. 
Paul. It is true that hypocrites sometimes speak, and 
that testimonies and thanksgivings are apt to be dis- 
credited on their account ; but bad money would never 
be put in circulation unless good money was indisputably 
valuable. It is not the dumb, but the confessing 
Christian, not the taciturn, but the outspokenly thankful, 
who glorifies God, and helps on the Gospel. Calvin 
is properly severe on our "pseudo-nicodemi," who 
make a merit of their silence, and boast that they 
have never by a syllable betrayed their faith. Faith 
is betrayed in another and more serious sense when it 
is kept secret 

But to return to the Apostle, who himself, at ver. 16, 
returns to the beginning of the chapter, and resumes 
the ovk iy/eaKou/xep of ver. 1 : " Wherefore we faint 
not." " Wherefore " means " With all that has been 
said in view " ; not only the glorious future in which 
Paul and his disciples are to be raised and presented 
together to Christ, but his daily experience of the life 
of Jesus manifested in his mortal flesh. This kept 
him brave and strong. " We faint not ; but though 
our outward man is decaying, yet our inward man is 
renewed day by day." The outward man covers the 


same area as " our body," or " our mortal flesh." It 
is human nature as it is constituted in this world — a 
weak, fragile, perishable thing. Paul could not mistake, 
and did not hide from himself, the effect which his 
apostolic work had upon him. He saw it was killing 
him. He was old long before the time. He was a 
sorely broken man at an age when many are in the 
fulness of their strength. The earthen vessel was 
visibly crumbling. Still, that was not the whole of his 
experience. "The inward man is renewed day by 
day." The meaning of these words must be fixed 
mainly by the opposition in which they stand to 
oiiK iyxaKovfiev (" we faint not "). The same word 
(avaKaivovadai) is used of the renewal of the soul in 
the Creator's image (Col. iii. 10) — i.e., of the work of 
sanctification ; but the opposition in question proves 
that this is not contemplated here. We must rather 
think of the daily supply of spiritual power for apostolic 
service — of the new strength and joy which were given 
to St. Paul every morning, in spite of the toils and 
sufferings which every day exhausted him. Of course 
we can say of all people, bad as well as good, "The 
outward man is decaying." Time tires the stoutest 
runner, crumbles the compactest wall. But we cannot 
say of all, "The inward man is renewed day by day." 
That is not the compensation of every one ; it is the 
compensation of those whose outward man has decayed 
in Jesus' service, who have been worn out in labours 
for His sake. It is they, and they only, who have a 
life within which is independent of outward conditions, 
which sufferings and deaths cannot crush, and which 
never grows old. The decay of the outward man in the 
godless is a melancholy spectacle, for it is the decay 
of everything ; in the Christian it does not touch that 

iv.7-i8.] THE VICTORY OF FAITH 169 

life which is hid with Christ in God, and which is in 
the soul itself a well of water springing up to life 

But who shall speak of the two great verses in which 
the Apostle, leaving controversy out of sight, solemnly 
weighs against each other time and eternity, the seen 
and the unseen, and claims his inheritance beyond? 
" Our light affliction, which is for the moment, worketh 
for us more and more exceedingly an eternal weight 
of glory ; while we look not at the things which are 
seen, but at the things which are not seen : for the 
things which are seen are temporal ; but the things 
which are not seen are eternal." One can imagine 
that he was dictating quick and eagerly as he began 
the sentence ; he " crowds and hurries and precipitates " 
the grand contrasts of which his mind is full. Afflic- 
tion in any case is outweighed by glory, but the 
affliction in question is a light matter, the glory a 
great weight : the light affliction is but momentary — 
it ends with death at the latest, it may end in the 
coming of Jesus to anticipate death ; the weight of glory 
is eternal ; and as if this were not enough, the light 
affliction which is but for a moment works out for 
us the weight of glory which endures for ever, " in 
excess and to excess," in a way above conception, 
to a degree above conception : it works out for us 
the things which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, 
nor man's heart conceived, " all that God has prepared 
for them that love Him " (1 Cor. ii. 9)., If Paul spoke 
fast and with beating heart as he crowded all this 
into two brief lines, we can well believe that the pressure 
was relaxed, and that the pen moved more steadily 
and slowly over the contemplative words that follow t 
"while we look not to the things which are seen, 


but to the things which are not seen : for the things 
which are seen are temporal, but the things which are 
not seen are eternal." This sentence is sometimes 
translated conditionally : " provided we look," etc. This 
is legitimate, but unnecessary. The Apostle is speak- 
ing, in the first instance, of himself, and the looking 
is taken for granted. The look is not merely equiva- 
lent to vision ; it means that the unseen is the goal 
of him who looks. The eye is to be directed to it, 
not as an indifferent object, but as a mark to aim 
at, an end to attain. This observation goes some way 
to limit the application of the whole passage. The 
contrast of things seen and things unseen is some- 
times taken in a latitude which deprives it of much of 
its force : psychology and metaphysics are dragged in 
to define and to confuse the Apostle's thought But 
everything here is practical. The things seen are to 
all intents and purposes that tempest-tossed life of 
which St. Paul has been speaking, that daily dying, 
that pressure, perplexity, persecution, and downcasting, 
which are for the present his lot. To these he does 
not look : in comparison with that to which he does 
look, these are a light and momentary affliction which 
is not worth a thought. Similarly, the things unseen 
are not everything, indefinitely, which is invisible ; to 
all intents and purposes they are the glory of Christ. 
It is on this the Apostle's eye is fixed, this which 
is his goal. The stormy life, even when most is made 
of its storms, passes ; but Christ's glory can never pass. 
It is infinite, inconceivable, eternal. There is an inherit- 
ance in it for all who keep their eyes upon it, and, 
sustained by a hope so high, bear the daily death of 
a life like Paul's as a light and momentary affliction. 
The connexion between the two is so close that the 

i*.7-i8.] THE VICTORY OF FAITH 171 

one is said to work for us the other. By divine 
appointment they are united ; fellowship with Jesus 
is fellowship all through — in the daily dying, which 
soon has done its worst, and then in the endless life. 
We may say, if we please, that the glory is the reward 
of the suffering ; it would be truer to say that it was 
its compensation, truer still that it was its fruit. There 
is a vital connexion between them, but no one can 
imagine he is reading Paul's thought who should find 
here the idea that the trivial service of man can make 
God his debtor for so vast a sum. The excellency 
of the power which raises the earthen vessel to this 
height of faith, hope, and inspiration is itself God's, 
and God's alone. 

Distrust of the supernatural, insistance on the pre- 
sent and the practical, and the pride of a self-styled 
common sense, have done much to rob modern Chris- 
tianity of this vast horizon, to blind it to this heavenly 
vision. But wherever the life of Jesus is being mani- 
fested in mortal flesh — wherever in His service and 
for His sake men and women die daily, wearing out 
nature, but with spirit ceaselessly renewed — there the 
unseen becomes real again. Such people know that 
what they do is not for one dead, but for One who 
lives ; they know that the daily inspirations they 
receive, the hopes, the deliverances, are wrought in 
them, not by themselves, but by One who has all power 
in heaven and on earth. The things that are unseen 
and eternal stand out as what they are in relation to 
lives like these ; to other lives, they have no relation 
at all. A worldly and selfish career does not work 
out an exceeding and eternal weight of glory, and 
therefore to the worldly and selfish man heaven is 
for ever an unpractical, incredible thing. But it not 


only comes out in its brightness, it comes out as a 
mighty inspiration and support, to every one who 
bears about in his body the dying of Jesus ; as he 
fastens his eye upon it, he takes heart anew, and in 
spite of daily dying " faints not" 



" For we know that if the earthly house of our tabernacle be dis- 
solved, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, 
eternal, in the heavens. For verily in this we groan, longing to be 
clothed upon with our habitation which is from heaven : if so be that 
being clothed we shall not be found naked. For indeed we that are 
in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened ; not for that we would 
be unclothed, but that we would be clothed upon, that what is mortal 
may be swallowed up of life. Now He that wrought us for this very 
thing is God, who gave unto us the earnest of the Spirit. Being 
therefore always of good courage, and knowing that, whilst we are at 
home in the body, we are absent from the Lord (for we walk by faith, 
not by sight) ; we are of good courage, I say, and are willing rather 
to be absent from the body, and to be at home with the Lord. 
Wherefore also we make it our aim, whether at home or absent, 
to be well-pleasing unto Him. For we must all be made manifest 
before the judgment-seat of Christ; that each one may receive the 
things done in the body, according to what he hath done, whether 
it be good or bad." — 2 Cor. v. i-io (R. V.). 

THAT outlook on the future, which at the close of 
chap. iv. is presented in the most general terms, 
is here carried out by the Apostle into more definite 
detail. The passage is one of the most difficult in 
his writings, and has received the most various inter- 
pretations ; yet the first impression it leaves on a 
simple reader is probably as near the truth as the 
subtlest ingenuity of exegesis. It is indeed to such 
first impressions that one often returns when the mind 
has ceased to sway this way and that under the impact 
of conflicting arguments. 



The Apostle has been speaking about his life as a 
daily dying, and in the first verse of this chapter he 
looks at the possibility that this dying may be consum- 
mated in death. It is only a possibility, for to the end 
of his life it was always conceivable that Christ might 
come, and forestall the last enemy. Still, it is a 
possibility ; the earthly house of our tabernacle may 
be dissolved ; the tent in which we live may be taken 
down. With what hope does the Apostle confront such 
a contingency ? " If this befall us," he says, " we have 
a building from God, a house not made with hands, 
eternal, in the heavens." Every word here points the 
contrast between this new house and the old one, and 
points it in favour of the new. The old was a tent ; the 
new is a building : the old, though not literally made 
with hands, had many of the qualities and defects of 
manufactured articles ; the new is God's work and God's 
gift : the old was perishable ; the new is eternal. 
When Paul says we have this house in the heavens, it 
is plain that it is not heaven itself; it is a new body 
which replaces and surpasses the old. It is in the 
heavens in the sense that it is God's gift ; it is some- 
thing which He has for us where He is, and which we 
shall wear there. " We have it " means " it is ours " ; 
any more precise definition must be justified on grounds 
extraneous to the text. 

The second verse brings us to one of the ambiguities 
of the passage. " For verily," our R.V. r^ads, " in 
this we groan, longing to be clothed upon with our 
habitation which is from heaven." The meaning which 
the English reader finds in the words " in this we 
groan " is in all probability " in our present body we 
groan." This is also the meaning defended by Meyer, 
and by many scholars. But it cannot be denied that 

v. i-iaj THE CHRISTIAN HOPE iyj 

hf rovTtp does not naturally refer to 17 imyeio? fjfiwv 
oliela tov <tk^vov<;. If it means " in this body," it must 
be attached specially to <r/cijvous, and <tk>jvov^ is only 
a subordinate word in the clause. Elsewhere in the 
New Testament iv tovt<p means " on this account," or 
" for this reason " (see 1 Cor. iv. 4 ; John xvi. 30 : 'Ev 
tovtu) Trurrevo/i,ev on airb Qeov igr}\0e<;), and I prefer to 
take it in this sense here : " For this cause — i.e., because 
we are the heirs of such a hope — we groan, longing 
to be clothed upon with our habitation which is from 
heaven." If Paul had no hope, he would not sigh 
for the future ; but the very longing which pressed the 
sighs from his bosom became itself a witness to the 
glory which awaited him. The same argument, it has, 
often been pointed out, is found in Rom. viii. 19 ff. 
The earnest expectation of the creation, waiting for 
the manifestation of the sons of God, is evidence that 
this manifestation will in due time take place. The 
spiritual instincts are prophetic. They have not been 
implanted in the soul by God only to be disappointed. 
It is of the longing hope of immortality — that very 
hope which is in question here — that Jesus says : " If 
it were not so, I would have told you." 

The third verse states the great gain which lies in 
the fulfilment of this hope : " Since, of course, being 
clothed [with this new body], we -shall not be found 
naked [i.e., without any body]." I cannot think, especi- 
ally looking on to ver. 4, that these two verses (2 and 3) 
mean anything else than that Paul longs for Christ to 
come before death. If Christ comes first, the Apostle 
will receive the new body by the transformation, instead 
of the putting off, of the old ; he will, so to speak, put it 
on above the old (iirevBvaaaOai) ; he will be spared the 
shuddering fear of d}'ing ; he will not know what it is 


to have the old tent taken down, and to be left house- 
less and naked. We do not need to investigate the 
opinions of the Hebrews or the Greeks about the 
condition of souls in Hades in order to understand 
these words ; the conception, figurative as it is, carries 
its own meaning and impression to every one. It is 
reiterated, rather than proved, in the fourth verse : l 
" For we who are in the tabernacle groan also, being 
burdened, in that our will is not to be unclothed, but 
to be clothed upon, that what is mortal may be 
swallowed up of life." It is natural to take fiapoviievot 
(" being burdened ") as referring to the weight of care 
and suffering by which men are oppressed while in the 
body ; but here also, as in the similar case of ver. 2, 
the proper reference of the word is forward. What 
oppresses Paul, and makes him sigh, is the intensity 
of his desire to escape " being unclothed," his immense 
longing to see Jesus come, and, instead of passing 
through the terrific experience of death, to have the 
corruptible put on incorruption, and the mortal put on 
immortality, without that trial. 

This seems plain enough, but we must remember 
that the confidence which Paul has been expressing in 
the first verse is meant to meet the very case in which 
this desire is not gratified, the case in which death has 
to be encountered, and the tabernacle taken down. " 1/ 
this should befall us," he says, " we have another body 
awaiting us, far better than that which we leave, and 
hence we are confident." The confidence which this 
hope inspires would naturally, we think, be most 
perfect, if in the very act of dissolution the new body 
were assumed ; if death were the initial stage in the 

1 The true rendering here is that in the margin of the R.V. 


transformation scene in which all that is mortal is 
swallowed up by life ; if it were, not the ushering of 
the Christian into a condition of " nakedness," which, 
temporary though it be, is a mere blank to the mind and 
imagination, but his admission to celestial life; if "to 
be absent from the body " were immediately, and in the 
fullest sense of the words, the same thing as "to be at 
home with the Lord." This is, in point of fact, the 
sense in which the passage is understood by a good many 
scholars, and those who read it so find in it a decisive 
turning-point in the Apostle's teaching on the last things. 
In the First Epistle to the Thessalonians, they say, 
and indeed in the First to the Corinthians also, Paul's 
eschatology was still essentially Jewish. The Christian 
dead are oi Koificofievot, or oi Koifirjdivres (" those that 
sleep ") ; nothing definite is said of their condition ; only 
it is implied that they do not get the incorruptible body 
till Jesus comes again and raises them from the dead. 
In other words, those who die before the Parousia 
have the soul-chilling prospect of an unknown term of 
" nakedness." Here this terror is dispelled by the 
new revelation made to the Apostle, or the new insight 
to which he has attained : there is no longer any such 
interval between death and glory; the heavenly body 
is assumed at once ; the state called Koifiaadai (" being 
asleep " ) vanishes from the future. Sabatier and 
Schmiedel, who adopt this view, draw extreme conse- 
quences from it. It marks an advance, according to 
Schmiedel, of the highest importance. The religious 
postulate of an uninterrupted communion of life with 
Christ, violated by the conception of a Koifiaadat, or 
falling asleep, is satisfied ; Christ's descent from heaven, 
and a simultaneous resurrection and judgment, become 
superfluous ; judgment is transferred to the moment of 



death, or rather to the process of development during 
life on earth ; and, finally, the place of eternal blessed- 
ness passes from earth (the Jewish and early Christian 
opinion, probably shared by Paul, as he gives no indica- 
tion of the contrary) to heaven. All this, it is further 
pointed out, is an approximation, more or less close, 
to the Greek doctrine of the immortality of the soul, 
and may even have been excogitated in part under its 
influence ; and it is at the same time a half-way house 
between the Pharisaic eschatology of First Thessalonians 
and the perfected Christian doctrine of a passage like 
John v. 24 : " Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that 
heareth My word, and believeth Him that sent Me, 
hath eternal life, and cometh not into judgment, but 
hath passed out of death into life." 

There is no objection to be made in principle to 
the idea that the Apostle's outlook on the future was 
subject to modification — that he was capable of attain- 
ing, or even did attain, a deeper insight, with experi- 
ence, into the connexion between that which is and 
that which is to come. But it is surely somewhat 
against the above estimate of the alleged change here 
that Paul himself seems to have been quite unconscious 
of it. He was not a man whose mind wrought at 
unawares, and who passed unwittingly from one stand- 
point to another. He was nothing if not reflective. 
According to Sabatier and Schmiedel, he had made 
a revolutionary change in his opinions — a change so 
vast that on account of it Sabatier reckons this Epistle, 
and especially this passage, the most important in all 
his writings for the comprehension of his theological 
development; and yet, side by side with the new 
revolutionary ideas, uttered literally in the same breath 
with them, we find the old standing undisturbed. 

. i-io.] THE CHRISTIAN HOPE 179 

The simultaneous resurrection and judgment, according 
to Schmiedel, should be impossible now ; but in chap. 
iv. 14 the resurrection appears precisely as in Thessa- 
lonians, and in chap. v. 10 the judgment, precisely as 
in all his Epistles from the first to the last. As for the 
inconsistency between going to be at home with the 
Lord and the Lord's coming, it also recurs in later 
years: Paul writes to the Philippians that he has a 
desire to depart and to be with Christ; and in the 
same letter, that the Lord is at hand, and that we wait 
for the Saviour from heaven. Probably the misleading 
idea in the study of the whole subject has been the 
assumption that the tcoi/iwfievoi — the dead in Christ — 
were in some dismal, dreary condition which could 
fairly be described as " nakedness." There is not a 
word in the New Testament which favours this idea. 
Where we see men die in faith, we see something quite 
different. " To-day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise." 
" Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." " I saw the souls of 
them which had been slain for the Word of God . . . 
and there was given them, to each one, a white robe. H 
When Paul speaks of those who have fallen asleep, 
in First Thessalonians, it is with the express intention 
of showing that those who survive to the Parousia have 
no advantage over them. " Jesus Christ died for us," he 
writes (1 Thess. v. 10), "that, whether we wake or 
sleep, we may live together with Him." And he uses one 
most expressive word in a similar connexion (1 Thess. 
iv. 14) : " Them also that sleep in Jesus will God bring 
[afet] with Him." Suave verbum, says Bengel : dicitur 
de viventibus. May we not say with equal cogency, not 
only " de viventibus," but " de viventibus cum Iesu " ? 
Those who are asleep are with Him; they are in 
blessedness with Him ; what their mode of existence h 


it may be impossible for us to conceive, but it is certainly 
not a thing to shrink from with horror. The taking 
down of the old tent in which we live here is a thing 
from which one cannot but shrink, and that is why 
Paul would rather have Christ come, and be saved the 
pain and fear of dying. With death in view he men- 
tions the new body as the ground of his confidence, 
because it is the final realisation of the Christian hope, 
the crown of redemption (Rom. viii. 23). But he does 
not mean to say that, unless the new body were granted 
in the very instant of dying, death would usher him 
into an appalling void, and separate him from Christ. 
This assumption, on which the interpretation of 
Sabatier and Schmiedel rests, is entirely groundless, 
and therefore that interpretation, in spite of a super- 
ficial plausibility, is to be decidedly rejected. It is to 
be rejected all the more when we are invited to see the 
occasion which produced Paul's supposed change of 
opinion in the danger which he had lately incurred in 
Asia (chap. i. 8-10). Paul, we are to imagine, who 
had always been confident that he would live to see the 
Parousia, had come to very close quarters with death, 
and this experience constrained him to seek in his 
religion a hope and consolation more adequate to the 
terribleness of death than any he had yet conceived. 
Hence the mighty advance explained above. But is it 
not absurd to say that a man, whose life was constantly 
in peril, had never thought of death till this time? 
Can any one seriously believe that, as Sabatier puts 
it, "the image of death, with which the Apostle had not 
hitherto concerned himself, [here] enters for the first 
time within the scope of his doctrine " ? Can any one 
who knows the kind of man Paul was deliberately 
suggest that fear and self-pity conferred on him an 


enlargement of spiritual vision which no sympathy for 
bereaved disciples, and no sense of fellowship with 
those who had fallen asleep in Jesus, availed to bestow ? 
Believe this who will, it seems utterly incredible to me. 
The passage says nothing inconsistent with Thessalo- 
nians, or First Corinthians, or Philippians, or Second 
Timothy, about the last things : it expresses in a special 
situation the constant Christian faith and hope — " the 
redemption of the body " ; that is the possession of the 
believer (exofiev); it is ours; and the Apostle is not 
concerned to fix the moment of time at which hope be- 
comes sight. "Come what will," he says, " come death 
itself, this is ours ; and because it is ours, though we 
dread the possible necessity of having to strip off the 
old body, and would fain escape it, we do not allow it 
to dismay us." 

The Apostle cannot look to the end of the Christian 
hope without referring to its condition and guarantee. 
" He that wrought us for this very thing is God, who 
gave us the earnest of the Spirit." The future is never 
considered in the New Testament in a speculative 
fashion ; nothing could be less like an apostle than to 
discuss the immortality of the soul. The question of 
life beyond death is for Paul not a metaphysical but a 
Christian question ; the pledge of anything worth the 
name of life is not the inherent constitution of human 
nature, but the possession of the Divine Spirit. With- 
out the Spirit, Paul could have had no such certainty, 
no such triumphant hope, as he had ; without the Spirit 
there can be no such certainty yet. Hence it is idle 
to criticise the Christian hope on purely speculative 
grounds, and as idle to try on such grounds to establish 
it. That hope is of a piece with the experience which 
comes when the Spirit of Him who raised up Christ 


from the dead dwells in us, and apart from this experi- 
ence it cannot even he understood. But to say that 
there is no eternal life except in Christ is not to accept 
what is called " conditional immortality " ; it is only to 
accept conditional glory. 

The fifth verse marks a pause : in the three which 
follow Paul describes the mood in which, possessed of 
the Christian hope, he confronts all the conditions of 
the present and the alternatives of the future. " We 
are of good courage at all times," he says. " We know 
that while we are at home in the body we are away 
from home as far as the Lord is concerned — at a 
distance from Him." This does not mean that fellow- 
ship is broken, or that the soul is separated from the 
love of Christ ; it only means that earth is not heaven, 
and that Paul is painfully conscious of the fact. This 
is what is proved by ver. 7 : We are absent from the 
Lord, our true home, " for in this world we are walking 
through the realm of faith, not through that of actual 
appearance." 1 There is a world, a mode of existence, 
to which Paul looks forward, which is one of actual 
appearance ; he will be in Christ's presence there, and 
see Him face to face (1 Cor. xiii. 12). But the world 
through which his course lies meanwhile is not that 
world of immediate presence and manifestation ; on the 
contrary, it is a world of faith, which realises that 
future world of manifestation only by a strong spiritual 
conviction ; it is through a faith-land that Paul's journey 
leads him. All along the way his faith keeps him in 
good heart ; nay, when he thinks of all that it ensures, 

1 This translation is Schmiedel's. For the use of 5td cf. Rev. xxi. 24 : 
Kal xtpirar^a-ovaiv tA t6vt) Sib. rod 0u>rAs a&rijs. It cannot mean "by" 
faith, in the sense of "according to" faith, or as faith directs. Nor 
can it be proved that etSos ever means " sight." 

v. i-io.] THE CHRISTIAN HOPE 183 

of all that is guaranteed by the Spirit, he is willing 
rather to be absent from the body, and to be at home 
with the Lord. 

"For, ah I the Master is so fair, 
His smile so sweet on banished men, 
That they who meet it unaware 
Can never turn to earth again ; 
And they who see Him risen afar, 
At God's right hand to welcome them, 
Forgetful stand of home and land, 
Desiring fair Jerusalem." 

If he had to make his choice, it would incline this way, 
rather than the other ; but it is not his to make a 
choice, and so he does not express himself uncon- 
ditionally. The whole tone of the passage anticipates 
that of Phil. i. 21 if. : " For to me to live is Christ, and 
to die is gain. But if to live in the flesh, — if this is 
the fruit of my work, then what I shall choose I wot 
not. But I am in a strait betwixt the two, having the 
desire to depart and to be with Christ ; for it is very 
far better : yet to abide in the flesh is more needful for 
your sake." Nothing could be less like the Apostle 
than a monkish, unmanly wish to die. He exulted in 
his calling. It was a joy to him above all joys to 
speak to men of the love of God in Jesus Christ. But 
nothing, on the other hand, could be less like him than 
to lose sight of the future in the present, and to forget 
amid the service of men the glory which is to be 
revealed. He stood between two worlds; he felt the 
whole attraction of both ; in the earnest of the Spirit he 
knew that he had an inheritance there as well as here. 
It is this consciousness of the dimensions of life that 
makes him so immensely interesting; he never wrote 
a dull word ; his soul was stirred incessantly by im- 
pulses from earth and from heaven, swept by breezes 


from the dark and troubled pea of man's life, touched 
by inspirations from the radiant heights where Christ 
dwelt. We do not need to be afraid of the reproach of 
" other worldliness " if we seek to live in this same 
spirit ; the reproach is as false as it is threadbare. It 
would be an incalculable gain if we could recover the 
primitive hope in something like its primitive strength. 
It would not make us false to our duties in the world, 
but it would give us the victory over the world. 

In bringing this subject to a close, the Apostle strikes 
a graver note. A certain moral, as well as a certain 
emotional temper, is evoked by the Christian hope. 
It fills men with courage, and with spiritual yearnings ; 
it braces them also to moral earnestness and vigour. 
" Wherefore also we make it our aim " — literally, we 
are ambitious, the only lawful ambition — " whether 
at home or absent, to be well-pleasing unto Him." 
Modes of being are not of so much consequence. It 
may agree with a man's feelings better to live till 
Christ comes, or to die before He comes, and go at 
once to be with Him ; but the main thing is, in what- 
ever mode of being, to be accepted in His sight. " For 
we must all be manifested before the judgment-seat 
of Christ, that each one may receive the things done 
in the body, according to what he hath done, whether 
it be good or bad." The Christian hope is not clouded 
by the judgment-seat of Christ ; it is sustained at the 
holy height which befits it. We are forbidden to 
count upon it lightly. " Every man," we are reminded, 
"that hath this hope set on Him purifieth himself 
even as He is pure." It is not necessary for us to 
seek a formal reconciliation of this verse with Paul's 
teaching that the faithful are accepted in Christ Jesus ; 
we can feel that both must be true. And if the 


doctrine of justification freely, by Goer's grace, is that 
which has to be preached to sinful men, the doctrine of 
exact retribution, taught in this passage, has its main 
interest and importance for Christians. It is Chris- 
tians only who are in view here, and the law of requital 
is so exact that every one is said to get back, to carry 
off for himself, the veiy things done in the body. In 
this world, we have not seen the last of anything. 
We shall all be manifested before the judgment-seat 
of Christ ; all that we have hidden shall be revealed. 
The books are shut now, but they will be opened 
then. The things we have done in the body will 
come back to us, whether good or bad. Every pious 
thought, and every thought of sin ; every secret prayer, 
and every secret curse ; every unknown deed of 
charity, and every hidden deed of selfishness : we will 
see them all again, and though we have not remem- 
bered them for years, and perhaps have forgotten them 
altogether, we shall have to acknowledge that they are 
our own, and take them to ourselves. Is not that a 
solemn thing to stand at the end of life? Is it not 
a true thing ? Even those who can say with the 
Apostle, " Being justified by faith, we have peace with 
God through our Lord Jesus Christ, and rejoice in 
hope of His glory," know how true it is. Nay, they 
most of all know, for they understand better than others 
the holiness of God, and they are especially addressed 
here. The moral consciousness is not maintained in 
its vigour and integrity if this doctrine of retribution 
disappears ; and if we are called by a passage like 
this to encourage ourselves in the Lord, and in the 
hope which He has revealed, we are warned also that 
evil cannot dwell with God, and that He will by no 
means clear the guilty. 



"Knowing therefore the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but 
we are made manifest unto God ; and I hope that we are made 
manifest also in your consciences. We are not again commending 
ourselves unto you, but speak as giving you occasion of glorying on 
our behalf, that ye may have wherewith to answer them that glorv 
in appearance and not in heart. For whether we are beside ourselves, 
it is unto God ; or whether we are of sober mind, it is unto you. 
For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that 
One died for all, therefore all died ; and He died for all, that they 
which live should no longer live unto themselves, but unto Him who 
for their sakes died and rose again." — 2 Cor. v. n-15 (R.V.). 

THE Christian hope of immortality is elevated and 
solemnised by the thought of the judgment-seat 
of Christ. This is no strange thought to St. Paul ; 
many a time he has set himself in imagination in that 
great presence, and let the awe of it descend upon his 
heart. This is what he means when he writes, " Know- 
ing the fear of the Lord." Like the pastors addressed 
in the Epistle to the Hebrews, he exercises his office 
as one who must render an account. In this spirit, 
he says, he persuades men. A motive so high, and 
so stern in its purifying power, no minister of Christ 
can afford to dispense with. We need something to 
suppress self-seeking, to keep conscience vigorous, to 
preserve the message of reconciliation itself from de- 
generating into good-natured indifference, to prohibit 



immoral compromises and superficial healing of the 
soul's hurts. Let us familiarise our minds, by medita- 
tion, with the fear due to Christ the judge, and a new 
element of power will enter into our service, making 
it at once more urgent and more wholesome than it 
could otherwise be. 

The meaning of the words " we persuade men " is 
not at once clear. Interpreters generally find in them 
a combination of two ideas — we try to win men for 
the Gospel, and we try to convince them of our own 
purity of motive in our evangelistic work. The word 
is suitable enough to express either idea ; and though 
it is straining it to make it carry both, the first is 
suggested by the general tenor of the passage, and the 
second seems to be demanded by what follows. " We 
try to convince men of our disinterestedness, but we 
do not need to try to convince God; we have been 
manifested to Him already; 1 and we trust also that 
we have been manifested in your consciences." Paul 
was well aware of the hostility with which he was 
regarded by some of the Corinthians, but he is confident 
that, when his appeal is tried in the proper court, 
decision must be given in his favour, and he hopes that 
this has really been done at Corinth. Often we do 
not give people in his position the benefit of a fair 
trial. It is not in our consciences they are arraigned 
— i.e., in God's sight, and according to God's law — but 
at the bar of our prejudices, our likes and dislikes, 
sometimes even our whims and caprices. It is not 
their character which is taken into account, but some- 
thing quite irrelevant to character. Paul did not care 
for such estimates as these. It was nothing to him 

1 The <pavep(>)0ijva.i of the last judgment, ver. io, has as good as taken 
place — for God. 


whether his appearance made a favourable impression on 
those who heard him — whether they liked his voice, his 
gestures, his manners, or even his message. What he 
did care for was to be able to appeal to their consciences, 
as he could appeal to God, to whom all things were naked 
and opened, that in the discharge of his functions as an 
evangelist he had been absolutely simple and sincere. 

In speaking thus, he has no intention of again 
recommending himself. Rather, as he says with a 
touch of irony, it is for their convenience he writes; 
he is giving them occasion to boast on his behalf) that 
when they encounter people who boast in face and not 
in heart they may not be speechless, but may have 
something to say for themselves — and for him. It is 
easy to read between the lines here. The Corinthians 
had persons among them — Jewish and Judaising teachers 
evidently — who boasted " in face " ; in other words, 
who prided themselves on outward and visible dis- 
tinctions, though, as Paul asserts, they had nothing 
within to be proud of. There are suggestions of these 
distinctions elsewhere, and we can imagine the claims 
men made, the airs they gave themselves, or at least 
the recognition they consented to accept, on the ground 
of them. Their eloquence, their knowledge of the 
Scriptures, their Jewish descent, their acquaintance 
with the Twelve, above all acquaintance with Jesus 
Himself — these were their credentials, and of these their 
followers made much. Perhaps even on their own 
ground Paul could have met and routed most of them, 
but meanwhile he leaves them in undisturbed possession 
of their advantages, such as they are. He only sums 
up these advantages in the disparaging word " face," 
or " appearance " ; they are all on the outside ; they 
amount to " a fair show in the flesh," but no more. He 


would not like if his disciples could make no better boast 
of their master, and all the high things he has written, 
from chap. ii. 14 on to chap. v. 10, especially his vindica- 
tion of the absolute purity of his motives, furnish them, 
if they choose to take it so, with grounds of counter- 
boasting, far deeper and more spiritual than those of 
his adversaries. For he boasts, not " in appearance, 
but in heart." The ironical tone in this is unmistakable, 
yet it is not merely ironical. From the beginning of 
Christianity to this day, Churches have gathered round 
men, and made their boast in them. Too often it has 
been a boast " in face," and not " in heart " — in gifts, 
accomplishments, and distinctions, which may have 
given an outward splendour to the individual, but 
which were entirely irrelevant to the possession of the 
Christian spirit. Often even the imperfections of the 
natural man have been gloried in, simply because they 
were his ; and the Lutheran and Calvinistic Churches, 
for example, owe some of their most distinctive features 
to an exaggerated appreciation of those very character- 
istics of Luther and Calvin which had no Christian 
value. The same thing is seen every day, on a smaller 
scale, in congregations. People are proud of their 
minister, not for what he is in heart, but because he 
is more learned, more eloquent, more naturally capable, 
than other preachers in the same town. It is a pity 
when ministers themselves, like the Judaists in Corinth, 
are content to have it so. The true evangelist or 
pastor will choose rather, with St. Paul, to be taken 
for what he is as a Christian, and for nothing else ; 
and if he must be spoken about, he will be spoken of 
in this character, and in no other. Nay, if it really 
comes to glorying "in face," he will glory in his weak- 
nesses and incapacities; he will magnify the very 


earthenness of the earthen vessel, the very coarseness 
of the clay, as a foil to the power and life of Christ 
which dwell in it. 

The connexion of ver. 13 with what precedes is 
very obscure. Perhaps as fair a paraphrase as any 
would run thus : " And well may you boast of our 
complete sincerity ; for whether we are beside ourselves, 
it is to God ; or whether we are of sober mind, it is 
unto you ; that is, in no case is self-interest the motive 
or rule of our conduct." Connexion apart, there is a 
further difficulty about en-e i^eaTrj/xev. The Revised 
Version renders it " whether we are beside ourselves," 
but in the margin gives "were" for "are." It makes 
a very great difference which tense we accept. If 
the proper meaning is given by " are," the application 
must be to some constant characteristic of the Apostle's 
ministry. His enthusiasm, his absolute superiority to 
common selfish considerations such as are ordinarily 
supreme in human life, his resolute assertion of truths 
lying beyond the reach of sense, the unearthly flame 
which burned unceasingly in his bosom, and never 
more brightly than when he wrote the fourth and fifth 
chapters of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians — all 
these constitute the temper which is described as being 
"beside oneself," a kind of sacred madness. It was 
in this sense that the accusation of being beside himself 
was brought on a memorable occasion against Jesus 
(Mark iii. 21, i^earrj). The disciple and the Master 
alike seemed to those who did not understand them to 
be in an overstrained, too highly wrought condition 
of spirit ; in the ardour of their devotion they allowed 
themselves to be carried beyond all natural limits and 
it was not improper to speak of applying some kindly 
restraint. At first dght this interpretation seems 


very appropriate, and I do not think that the tense of 
4]-6<rT7]fiev is decisive against it. 1 Those who think it is 
point to the change to the present tense in the next 
clause, efoe aacjipovovfiev, and allege that this would have 
no motive unless igeaTijfiev were a true past. But this 
may be doubted. On the one hand, i^danj in Mark iii. 2 1 
can hardly mean anything but " He is beside Him- 
self — i.e. } it is virtually a present; on the other, the 
grammatical present e^iardfieda would not unambigu- 
ously convey the idea of madness, and would therefore 
be inappropriate here. But assuming that the change of 
tense has the effect of making igeaTrjfiev a real past, and 
that the proper rendering is " whether we were beside 
ourselves," what is the application then ? We must 
suppose that some definite occasion is before the Apostle 
and his readers, on which he had been in an ecstasy 
(cf. iv eKGTCKreb, Acts xi. 5 ) iyevero eir avrbv e/eorao-i?, 
Acts x. 10), and that his opponents availed themselves of 
this experience, in which he had passed, for a time, out 
of his own control, to whisper the malicious accusation 
that he had once not been quite right in his mind, and 
that this explained much. The Apostle, we should have 
to assume, admits the fact alleged, but protests against 
the inference drawn from it, and the use made of the 
inference. "I was beside myself," he says; "but it 
was an experience which had nothing to do with my 
ministry ; it was between God and my solitary self; 
and to drag it into my relations with you is a mere 
impertinence." That the " ecstasis " in question was 
his vision of Jesus on the way to Damascus, and that 

1 According to Winer i^iarr] in Mark. iii. 21 has the present sense 
= insanit ; and so it might be with i^eaTrj/xev here. The verb occurs 
fifteen times in the N»w Testament, and except in these two passages 
has always the sense of being amazed or astonished beyond measure 


his adversaries sought to discredit that, and the apostle- 
ship of Paul as grounded on that, is one of the 
extravagances of an irresponsihle criticism. Of all 
experiences that ever befell him, his conversion is the 
very one which was not solely his own affair and God's, 
but the affair of the whole Church ; and whereas he 
speaks of his ecstasies and visions with evident reluct- 
ance and embarrassment, as in chap. xii. i ff., or refuses 
to speak of them at all, as here (assuming this inter- 
pretation to be the true one), he makes his conversion 
and the appearance of the Lord the very foundation 
of his preaching, and treats of both with the utmost 
frankness. It must be something quite different from 
this — something analogous perhaps to the speaking 
with tongues, in which " the understanding was 
unfruitful," but for which Paul was distinguished 
(i Cor. xiv. 14-18) — that is intended here. Such rapt 
conditions are certainly open to misinterpretation ; and 
as their spiritual value is merely personal, Paul declines 
to discuss any allusion to them, as if it affected his 
relation to the Corinthians. 

The strongest point in favour of this interpretation 
seems to me not the tense of l^eirrt}fiev, but the use 
of 6e<o : " it is unto God." If the meaning were the 
one first suggested, and the madness were the holy 
enthusiasm of the Evangelist, that would be distinctly 
a thing which did concern the Corinthians, and it would 
not be natural to withdraw it from their censure as God's 
affair. Nevertheless, one can conceive Paul saying that 
he was answerable for his extravagances, not to them, 
but to his Master ; and that his sober-mindedness, at 
all events, had their interests in view. On a survey 
of the whole case, and especially with Mark hi. 21, and 
the New Testament use of the verb i^iara/Mii before 


us, I incline to think that the text of the Revised Version 
is to be preferred to the margin. The " being beside 
himself" with which Paul was charged will not, then, 
be an isolated incident in his career — an incident which 
Jewish teachers, remembering the ecstasies of Peter 
and John, could hardly object to — but the spiritual 
tension in which he habitually lived and wrought. The 
language, so far as I can judge, admits of this inter- 
pretation, and it brings the Apostle's experience into line, 
not only with that of his Master, but with that of many 
who have succeeded him. But how great and rare is 
the self-conquest of the man who can say that in his 
enthusiasm and his sobriety alike — when he is beside 
himself, and when his spirit is wholly subject to him — 
the one thing which never intrudes, or troubles his 
singleness of mind, is the thought of his own private 

In the verses which follow, Paul lets us into the 
secret of this unselfishness, this freedom from by-ends 
and ambition : " For the love of Christ constraineth 
us ; because we thus judge, that One died for all, there- 
fore all [of them] died." " Constraineth " is one of the 
most expressive words in the New Testament ; the love 
of Christ has hold of the Apostle on both sides, as it 
were, and urges him on in a course which he cannot 
avoid. It has him in its grasp, and he has no choice, 
under its irresistible constraint, but to be what he is, 
and to do what he does, whether men think him in his 
mind or out of his mind. That the love of Christ means 
Christ's love to us, and not our love to Him, is shown 
by the fact that Paul goes on at once to describe in what 
it consists. " It constrains us," he says, " because we 
have come to this mind about it: One died for all; so then 
all died." Here, we may say, is the content of Christ's 



love, the essence of it, that which gives it its soul- 
subduing and constraining power : He loved us, and 
gave Himself for us ; He died for all, and in that death 
of His all died. 

It may seem a hazardous thing to give a definition of 
love, and especially to shut up within the boundaries of 
a human conception that love of Christ which passes 
knowledge. But the intelligence must get hold some- 
how even of things inconceivably great, and the New 
Testament writers, with all their diversity of spiritual 
gifts, are at one as to what is essential here. They all 
find Christ's love concentrated and focussed in His 
death. They all find it there inasmuch as that death 
was a death for us. Perhaps St. Paul and St. John 
penetrated further, intellectually, than any of the others 
into the mystery of this " for " ; but if we cannot give 
it a natural interpretation, and an interpretation in 
which an absolutely irresistible constraint is hidden for 
heart and will, we do not know what the Apostles meant 
when they spoke of Christ's love. There has been 
much discussion about the " for " in this place. It is 
i/Trep, not avri, and many render it simply " on our 
behalf," or " for our advantage." That Christ did die 
for our advantage is not to be questioned. Neither is 
it to be questioned that this is a fair rendering of virkp. 
But what does raise question is whether this interpreta- 
tion of the "for" supplies sufficient ground for the 
immediate inference of the Apostle : " so then all died." 
Is it logical to say, " One died for the benefit of all : 
hence all died " ? From that premiss is not the only 
legitimate conclusion "hence all remained alive"? 
Plainly, if Paul's conclusion is to be drawn, the " for " 
must reach deeper than this mere suggestion of our 
advantage : if we all died, in that Christ died for us, 


there must be a sense in which that death of His is 
ours ; He must be identified with us in it : there, on 
the cross, while we stand and gaze at Him, He is not 
simply a person doing us a service ; He is a person 
doing us a service by filling our place and dying our 
death. It is out of this deeper relation that all services, 
benefits, and advantages flow; and that deeper sense 
of "for," to which Christ in His death is at once the 
representative and the substitute of man, is essential 
to do justice to the Apostle's thought. Without the 
ideas involved in these words we cannot conceive, as 
he conceived it, the love of Christ. We cannot under- 
stand how that force, which exercised such absolute 
authority over his whole life, appealed to his intelligence. 
We do not mean what he meant even when we use 
his words ; we gain currency, under cover of them, for 
ideas utterly inadequate to the spiritual depth of his. 

If this were an exposition of St. Paul's theology, and 
not of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, I should 
be bound to consider the connexion between that 
outward death of Christ in which the death of all is 
involved, and the appropriation of that death to them- 
selves by individual men. But the Apostle does not 
directly raise this question here ; he only adds in the 
fifteenth verse a statement of the purpose for which 
Christ died, and in doing so suggests that the connect- 
ing link is to be sought, in part at least, in the feeling 
of gratitude. " He died for all, that they which live 
should no longer live unto themselves, but unto Him 
who died for them and rose again." In dying our 
death Christ has done something for us so immense 
in love that we ought to be His, and only His, for 
ever. To make us His is the very object of His death. 
Before we know Him we are naturally selfish ; we are 


an end to ourselves, in the bad sense ; we are oui 
own. Even the sacrifices which men make for their 
families, their country, or their order, are but quali- 
fications of selfishness ; it is not eradicated and 
exterminated till we see and feel what is meant by 
this — that Christ died our death. The life we have 
after we have apprehended this can never be our own ; 
nay, we ourselves are not our own ; we are bought 
with a price ; life has been given a ransom for us, 
and our life is due to Him "who died for us and rose 
again." I believe the Authorised Version is right in 
this rendering, and that it is a mistake to say, " who 
for our sakes died and rose again." The Resurrection 
has certainly significance in the work of Christ, but 
not in precisely the same way as His death ; and Paul 
mentions it here, not to define its significance, but 
simply because he could not think of living except for 
One who was Himself alive. 

One point deserves especial emphasis here — the 
universality of the expressions. Paul has been speak- 
ing of himself, and of the constraint which the love of 
Christ, as he apprehends it, exercises upon him. But 
he no sooner begins to define his thought of Christ's 
love than he passes over from the first person to the 
third. The love of Christ was not to be limited ; what it 
is to the Apostle it is to the world : He died for all, and 
so all died. Whatever blessing Christ's death contained, 
it contains for all. Whatever doom it exhausts and 
removes, it exhausts and removes for all. Whatever 
power it breaks, it breaks for all. Whatever ideal it 
creates, whatever obligation it imposes, it creates and 
imposes for all. There is not a soul in the world 
which is excluded from an interest in that knowledge- 
surpassing love which made our death its own. There 


is not one which ought not to feel that omnipotent 
constraint which enchained and swayed the strong, 
proud spirit of Paul. There is not one which ought 
not to be pouring out its life for Him who died in its 
place, and rose to receive its service. 



" Wherefore we henceforth know no man after the flesh : even 
though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now we know Him 
so no more. Wherefore if any man is in Christ, he is a. new creature 
[or, there is a new creation] : the old things are passed away ; behold, 
they are become new." — 2 Cor. v. 16, 17 (R.V.). 

THE inferences which are here drawn depend upon 
what has just been said of Christ's death for all, 
and the death of all in that death of His. In that 
death, as inclusive of ours, the old life died, and with 
it died all its distinctions. All that men were, apart 
from Christ, all that constituted the " appearance " 
{irpoaatTrov, ver. 12) of their life, all that marked them 
off from each other as such and such outwardly, ceased 
to have significance the moment Christ's death was 
understood as Paul here understands it. He dates his 
inference with dirb tov vvv ("henceforth"). This does not 
mean from the time at which he writes, but from the 
time at which he saw that One had died for all, and so 
all died. Here, as in other places, he divides his life 
into "now" and "then," the Christian and the pre- 
Christian stage (Rom. v. 9; Eph. ii. H-13). The 
transition from one to the other was revolutionary, and 
one of its most startling results is that which he here 
describes. "Then," the distinctions between men, the 
" appearances " in which they boasted, had been im- 
portant in his eyes ; " now," they have ceased to be. 


v. i6, 17.] THE NEW WORLD 199 

He l never asks whether a man is Jew or Greek, rich 
or poor, bond or free, learned or unlearned ; these 
are classifications " after the flesh," and have died in 
Christ's death for all. To recognise them any longer, 
to admit the legitimacy of claims based upon them — 
such claims as his opponents in Corinth seem to have 
been putting forth — would be to make Christ's death, 
in a sense, of no effect. It would be to deny that when 
He died for all, all died in Him ; it would be to re- 
animate distinctions that should have been annihilated 
in His death. 

To this rule of knowing no one after the flesh Paul 
can admit no exception. Not even Christ is excepted. 
" Even though we have known Christ after the flesh, 
yet now we know Him so no more." This is a difficult 
saying, and has been very variously interpreted. The 
English reader inevitably supposes that Paul had known 
Christ "after the flesh," but had outgrown that kind of 
knowledge ; and that he is intimating these two facts. 
But it is quite possible to take the words 2 as purely 
hypothetical : "Supposing us to have known even Christ 
after the flesh — a case which in point of fact was never 
ours — yet now we know Him so no more." Grammar 
does not favour this last rendering, though it does not 
preclude it; and however the matter may be settled, 
the bare supposition, as much as the fact, requires us 
to give a definite meaning to the words about knowing 
Christ after the flesh, and ceasing so to know Him. 

Some have inferred from them that when Paul 
became a Christian, and for some time after, his con- 
ception of Christ had resembled that of the persons 
whom he is here controverting : his Christ had been 

1 The "we in the first clause of ver. 16 is emphatic. 
* As Heinrici does. 


to all intents and purposes a Jewish Messiah, and he 
had only been able by degrees to overcome, though he 
had at last overcome, the narrowness and nationalism 
of his early years as a disciple. To know Christ after 
the flesh would be to know Him in the character of 
a deliverer of the Jews : His Jewish descent, His cir- 
cumcision, His observance of the Temple worship, His 
limitation of His ministry to the Holy Land, would be 
matters of great significance ; and Jewish descent might 
naturally be supposed to establish a prerogative in 
relation to the Messiah for Jews as opposed to Gentiles. 
Probably there were Christians whose original concep- 
tion of the Saviour was of this kind, and it is a fair 
enough description to say that this amounts only to a 
knowing of Christ after the flesh ; but Paul can hardly 
have been one of them. His Christian knowledge of 
Christ dates from his vision of the Risen Lord on the 
way to Damascus, and in that appearance there was 
no room for anything that could be called " flesh." It 
was an appearance of the Lord of Glory. It determined 
all Paul's thoughts thenceforth. Nothing is more 
remarkable in his Epistles than the strong sense that 
what he calls his Gospel is one, unchanged, and un- 
changeable. It is not Yes and No. Neither man nor 
angel may modify it by preaching another Jesus than 
he preaches. He is quite unconscious of any such 
transformation of his Christology as is indicated above ; 
and in the absence of any trace elsewhere of a change 
so important, it is impossible to read it into the verse 
before us. 

Another interpretation of the words would make 
" knowing Christ after the flesh " refer to a Kiiowlid^e 
at first hand of the facts and outward conditions of 
Christ's life in this world : a knowledge winch Paul 

v. i6, i?.] THE NEW WORLD 201 

had in his early Christian days valued highly, but 
for which he no longer cared. There were numbers of 
men alive then who had known Christ in this sense. 
They had seen and heard Him in Galilee and Jerusalem ; 
they had much to tell about Him which would no 
doubt be verj' interesting to believers ; and more than 
likely some of them emphasised this distinction of 
theirs, and were disposed to be pretentious on the 
strength of it. Whether Paul had ever known Christ 
in this sense, it is impossible to say. But it is certain 
that to such knowledge he would have assigned no 
Christian importance whatever. And in doing so, he 
would have been following the example of Christ 
Himself. "Then shall ye begin to say, We have 
eaten and drunk in Thy presence, and Thou hast 
taught in our streets. And He shall say, I tell you, 
I know you not whence ye are." But it is impossible 
to suppose that this is a matter on which Paul as a 
Christian had ever needed to change his mind. 

It is an interpretation in part akin to this which 
makes St. Paul here decry all knowledge of the his- 
torical Christ in comparison with the understanding 
of His death and resurrection. To know Christ after 
the flesh is in this case to know Him as He is repre- 
sented in Matthew, Mark, and Luke; and Paul is 
supposed to say that, though narratives like these once 
had an interest and value for him, they really have 
it no longer : they are not essential to his Gospel, 
which is constituted by the death and resurrection 
alone. These great events and their consequences are 
all he is concerned with ; to know Christ after the 
Evangelists is merely to know Him after the flesh ; 
and flesh, even His flesh, ought to have no significance 
since His death. 


It is a little difficult to take this quite seriously, 
though it has a serious side. St. Paul, no doubt, makes 
very few references to incidents in the life of our 
Lord, or even to words which He spoke. 1 But he 
is not singular in this. The Epistles of Peter and 
John are historically as barren as his. They do not 
add a word to the Gospel story ; there is no new 
incident, no new trait in the picture of Jesus, no new 
oracle. Indeed, the only genuine addition to the 
record is that one made by Paul himself — " the word 
of the Lord Jesus, how He said, It is more blessed 
to give than to receive." The truth seems to be that 
it is not natural for an apostle, nor for any inspired 
man, to fall back on quotations, like a preacher gravelled 
for lack of matter, or conscious of wanting authority. 
Paul and his colleagues in apostleship had Christ 
living in them, and recognised the spirit by which 
they spoke as the spirit of their Master. So far as 
this was the case, it was certainly a matter of indiffer- 
ence to them whether they were acquainted with this 
or that incident in His life, with this or that syllable 
that He spoke on such and such an occasion. One 
casual occurrence, one scene in Christ's sufferings, 
one discourse which He delivered, would inevitably 
be known with more exact and literal precision to 
one person than to another ; and there is no difficulty 
in believing that the casual advantage which any 
individual might thus possess was regarded by St. 
Paul as a thing of no Christian consequence. Similar 
differences exist still, and in principle are to be dis- 
regarded. But it is another thing to say that all 
knowledge of the historical Christ is irrelevant to 

1 See the excellent section on Paul and the Historical Christ in 
Sabatier's The Apostle Paul (English Translation, pp. 76-85). 

v. i6, 17.] THE NEW WORLD 203 

Christianity, and yet another to father such an opinion 
on St. Paul. The attempt to do so is due in part, 
1 believe, to a misinterpretation of Kara aapica. Paul 
has been read as if what he disclaimed and decried 
were knowledge of Christ iv aapicL But the two 
things are quite distinct. Christ lived in the flesh ; but 
the life that He lived in the flesh He lived after the 
spirit, and when its spiritual import is regarded, it 
is safe to say that no one ever knew Christ as He 
was in the flesh — the Christ of Matthew, Mark, and 
Luke — better than Paul. No one had been initiated 
into Christ's character, as that character is revealed 
in the story of the Evangelists, more fully than he. 
No one ever knew the mind, the temper, the new 
moral ideal of Christianity, better than Paul, and there 
is no ultimate source for this knowledge but the his- 
torical Christ. Paul could not in his work as an 
evangelist preach salvation through the death and 
resurrection of an unknown person ; the story which 
was the common property of the Church, and with 
which her catechists everywhere indoctrinated the 
new disciples, must have been as familiar to him, in 
substance, as it is to us ; and his evident knowledge 
and appreciation of the character embodied in it forbids 
us to think of this acquaintance with Christ as what 
he means by knowing Him after the flesh. He might 
have had the Gospel narratives by heart, and counted 
them inestimably precious, and yet have spoken exactly 
as he speaks here. 

Nevertheless, this interpretation, though mistaken, 
has a certain truth in it. There is a historical know- 
ledge of Christ which is a mere irrelevance to Chris- 
tianity, and it has sometimes a stress laid upon it by 
its poRs»*sors which tempts one to speak of it in 


St. Paul's scornful tone. Many so-called " Lives " of 
Christ abound in it. They aim at a historical realism 
which, to speak the plain truth, has simply no religious 
value. Knowledge of localities, customs, costumes, 
and so forth, is interesting enough ; but if it should be 
ever so full and ever so exact, it is not the knowledge 
of Jesus Christ in any sense which makes a Gospel. 
It is quite possible, nay it is more than possible, that 
such knowledge may come between the soul and the 
Lord. It was so when Jesus lived. There were 
people who knew so well what He was like that they 
were blind to what He was. In St. Paul's phrase we 
may say that they knew Him " after the flesh," and it 
kept them from knowing Him truly. They asked, " Is 
not this the carpenter ? " as if that were a piece of 
undeniable insight ; and they were not conscious that 
only men blind to what He really was could ever have 
asked a question so absurd. It was not the carpenter 
who spoke with authority in the synagogues, and cast 
out devils, and brought in the kingdom ; it was the 
Son of Man, the Son of God ; and whether Paul meant 
it so or not, we may use his language in this passage 
to express the conviction, that one may really know 
Christ, to whom the whole outward aspect of His life, 
represented by "the carpenter of Nazareth," is indif- 
ferent; nay, that one cannot know Him in any real 
sense until these external things are indifferent. Or 
to put the same thing in other words, we may say that 
the knowledge of Christ which constitutes the Christian 
is not the knowledge of what He was, but of what He 
is ; and if we know what He is, then all that is merely 
outward in the history may pass away. 

But if none of these interpretations answers exactly 
to the Apostle's thought, where are we to seek the 

v. i6, 17.] THE NEW WORLD 205 

meaning of his words ? All these, it will be observed, 
assume that Paul knew Christ " after the flesh," subse- 
quent to his conversion ; that he shared, as a Christian, 
views about Christ which he is now combating. As 
these interpretations, however, are untenable, we must 
assume that the time when he thus knew Christ was 
before his conversion. He could look back to days 
when his Messianic conceptions were " carnal " ; when 
the Christ was to be identified, for him, by tokens in 
the domain of " appearance," or " flesh " ; when He 
was to be a national, perhaps merely a political deliverer, 
and the Saviour of the Jews in a sense which gave 
them an advantage over the Gentiles. But these days 
were gone for ever. " Henceforth " — from the very 
instant that the truth flashed on him, One died for all, 
and so all died — they belonged to a past which could 
never be revived or recalled. One died for all : that 
means that Christ is Universal Redeemer. That same 
One rose again : that means He is Universal Lord. 
He has done the same infinite service for all, He makes 
the same infinite claim upon all ; there are no prero- 
gatives for any race, for any caste, for any individual 
men, in relation to Him. In presence of His cross, 
there is no difference : in His death, and in our death 
in Him, all carnal distinctions die ; " henceforth we 
know no man after the flesh." Even kinship to Jesus 
" after the flesh " does not base any prerogative in the 
kingdom of God ; even to have eaten and drunk in 
His presence, and listened to His living voice, confers 
no distinction there ; He has not done more for His 
brethren and His companions than He has done for us 
all. And not only the carnal distinctions of men have 
vanished away ; the carnal Jewish conception of Christ 
has vanished with them. 


The seventeenth verse seems a new inference from 
the same ground as the fifteenth. Indeed, it connects 
so naturally with ver. 1 5 that one critic has suggested 
that ver. 16 is spurious, and another that it was a later 
insertion by the Apostle. Perhaps we may assume 
that St. Paul, who had no fear of such critics before 
his eyes, was capable of setting his sentences down 
just as they occurred to him, and did not mind an 
occasional awkwardness. When he writes " Where- 
fore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature," 
he is indeed drawing an inference from ver. 15, but he 
is at the same time generalising and carrying on the 
thought of ver. 16. The idea of the new creature 
occurs in other places in his writings (e.g., Eph. ii. 10; 
Gal. vi. 15), but both here and in Gal. vi. 15 I prefer 
the rendering in the margin of the Revised Version — 
"If any man is in Christ, there is a new creation : the 
old things passed away (when he died in Christ) ; x 
behold, they have become new." We may say, if we 
please, that it is the new creature which makes the new 
creation ; the change in the soul which revolutionises 
the world. Still, it is this universal change which the 
Apostle, apparently, wishes to describe ; and in the 
sudden note of triumph with which he concludes — 
" Behold ! all is become new " — we feel, as it were, 
one throb of that glad surprise with which he had 
looked out on the world after God had reconciled him 
to Himself by His Son. The past was dead to him, 
as dead as Christ on His cross ; all its ideas, all its 
hopes, all its ambitions, were dead ; in Christ, he was 
another man in another universe. 

This is the first passage in 2 Corinthians in which this 

1 Observe the aorist iraprjXdey. 

v. i6, 17.] THE NEW WORLD 207 

Pauline formula for a Christian — a man in Christ — is 
used. 1 It denotes the most intimate possible union, a 
union in which the believer's faith identifies him with 
Jesus in His death and resurrection, so that he can say, 
" I live no longer, but Christ liveth in me." It is the 
Apostle's profoundest word, not on the Gospel, but on 
the appropriation of the Gospel ; not on Christ, but on 
the Christian religion.* It is mystical, as every true word 
must be which speaks of the relation of the soul to the 
Saviour ; but it is intelligible to every one who knows 
what it is to trust and to love, and through trust and 
love to lose self in another whose life is greater and 
better than his own. And when we have seen, even for 
a moment, what it is to live in self or in the world, and 
what to live in Christ, we can easily believe that this 
union is equivalent to a re-creating and transfiguring of 
all things. 

It is impossible to point to all the applications of this 
truth : "all things " is too wide a text. Every reader 
knows the things which bulked most largely in his life 
before he knew Christ, and it is easy for him to tell 
the difference due to being in the Lord. In a sense 
the new creation is in process as long as we live ; it is 
ideally that faith in Christ means death in His death ; 
ideally that with faith the old passes and the new is 
there ; the actual putting away of the old, the actual 
production of the new, are the daily task of faith as it 
unites the soul to Christ. We are in Him the moment 
faith touches Him, but we have to grow up into Him 

1 Chap. ii. 14, 17, and chap. iii. 14, are more limited. 

* Perhaps the use of iv Xpiarip here may be determined by the wish 
to express tacitly his opposition to those who claimed to be in a 
special sense rod XptcroO. Paul's formula really asserts a much 
more intimate relation to Christ than theirs. 


in all things. Only as we do so does the world change 
all around us, till the promise is fulfilled of new heavens 
and a new earth. 

But there is one application of these words, directly 
suggested by the context, which we ought not to over- 
look : I mean their application to men, and the old 
ways of estimating men. Those who are in Christ 
have died to the whole order of life in which men are 
judged " after the flesh." Perhaps the Christian Church 
has almost as much need as any other society to la}- 
this to heart. We are still too ready to put stress upon 
distinctions which are quite in place in the world, but 
are without ground in Christ. Even in a Christian 
congregation there is a recognition of wealth, of learn- 
ing, of social position, in some countries of race, which 
is not Christian. I do not say these distinctions are 
not real, but they are meaningless in relation to Christ, 
and ought not feo be made. To make them narrows 
and impoverishes the soul. If we associate only with 
people of a certain station, and because of their station, 
all our thoughts and feelings are limited to a very small 
area of human life ; but if distinctions of station, of 
intelligence, of manners, are lost in the common relation 
to Christ, then life is open to us in all its length and 
breadth ; all things are ours, because we are His. To 
be guided by worldly distinctions is to know only a few 
people, and to know them by what is superficial in their 
nature ; but to see that such distinctions died in Christ's 
death, and to look at men in relation to Him who is 
Redeemer and Lord of all, is to know all our brethren, 
and to know them not on the surface, but to the heart. 
People lament everywhere the want of a truly social 
and brotherly feeling in the Church, and try all sorts 
of well-meant devices to stimulate it, but nothing short 

v. 16, 17.] THE NEW WORLD 209 

of this goes to the root of the matter. The social, in this 
universal sense, is dependent upon the religious. Those 
who have died in Christ to the world in which these 
separative distinctions reign will have no difficulty in 
recognising each other as one in Him. Society is trans- 
figured for each of us when this union is accomplished ; 
the old things have passed, and all has become new. 




" But all things are of God, who reconciled us to Himself through 
Christ, and gave unto us the ministry of reconciliation ; to wit, that 
God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, not reckoning 
unto them their trespasses, and having committed unto us the word 
of reconciliation. We are ambassadors therefore on behalf of Christ, 
as though God were intreating by us : we beseech you on behalf of 
Christ, be ye reconciled to God. Him who knew no sin He made to 
be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God 
in Him."— 2 Cor. v. 18-21 (R.V.). 

" Est hie insignis locus, si quis alius est in toto Paulo : proinde 
diligenter excutere singulas particulas convenit." — Calvin. 

" TF any man be in Christ," Paul has said, "there is 
A a new creation ; he is another man and lives in 
another world. But the new creation has the same 
Author as the original one : it is all of God, who recon- 
ciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and gave to us the 
ministry of reconciliation." It is plain from these last 
words that " us " does not mean Christians in general, 
but in the first instance Paul himself. He is a typical 
example of what it is to be in Christ ; he understands 
what his own words mean — "the old things passed 
away ; behold, they have become new " ; he under- 
stands also how this stupendous change has been 
brought about. "It is due to God," he says "who 
reconciled us to Himself through Christ." 

The great interest of this passage is its bearing upon 
the Christian doctrine of reconciliation, and before we 


v. i8-2i.] RECONCILIATION 211 

go further it is necessary to explain precisely what this 
word means. It presupposes a state of estrangement. 
Now, a state of estrangement may be of two kinds : the 
feeling of alienation and hostility may exist upon one 
side only, or it may exist upon both. What, then, is 
the character of that state of estrangement which 
subsists between God and man independently of the 
Gospel, and which the Gospel, as a ministry of recon- 
ciliation, is designed to overcome ? Is it one-sided, or 
two-sided ? Is there something to be put away in man 
only, or something to be put away in God as well, 
before reconciliation is effected ? 

These questions have been answered very confidently 
in different ways. Many, especially in modern times, 
assert with passionate eagerness that the estrangement 
is merely one-sided. Man is alienated from God by 
sin, fear, and unbelief, and God reconciles him to 
Himself when He prevails with him to lay aside these 
evil dispositions, and trust Him as his Father and his 
Friend. " All things are of God, who reconciled us to 
Himself through Christ," would mean in this case, " All 
things are of God, who has won our friendship through 
His Son." That this describes in part the effect of 
the Gospel, no one will deny. It is one of its blessed 
results that fear and distrust of God are taken away, 
and that we learn to trust and love Him. Nevertheless, 
this is not what the New Testament means by recon- 
ciliation, though it is one of its fruits. 

To St. Paul the estrangement which the Christian 
reconciliation has to overcome is indubitably two-sided ; 
there is something in God as well as something in man 
which has to be dealt with before there can be peace. 
Nay, the something on God's side is so incomparably 
more serious that in comparison with it the something 


on man's side simply passes out of view. It is God's 
earnest dealing with the obstacle on His own side tc 
peace with man which prevails on man to believe in 
the seriousness of His love, and to lay aside distrust. 
It is God's earnest dealing with the obstacle on His 
own side which constitutes the reconciliation ; the story 
of it is " the word of reconciliation " ; when men receive 
it, they receive (Rom. v. 10) the reconciliation. " Re- 
conciliation " in the New Testament sense is not some- 
thing which we accomplish when we lay aside our 
enmity to God ; it is something which God accomplished 
when in the death of Christ He put away everything 
that on His side meant estrangement, so that He might 
come and preach peace. To deny this is to take St 
Paul's Gospel away root and branch. He always con- 
ceives the Gospel as the revelation of God's wisdom 
and love in view of a certain state of affairs as sub- 
sisting between God and man. Now, what is the really 
serious element in this situation? What is it that 
makes a Gospel necessary ? What is it that the wisdom 
and love of God undertake to deal with, and do deal 
with, in that marvellous way which constitutes the 
Gospel ? Is it man's distrust of God ? is it man's 
dislike, fear, antipathy, spiritual alienation ? Not if we 
accept the Apostle's teaching. The serious thing which 
makes the Gospel necessary, and the putting away of 
which constitutes the Gospel, is God's condemnation of 
the world and its sin ; it is God's wrath, " revealed from 
heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of 
men" (Rom. i. 16-18). The putting away of this is 
" reconciliation " : the preaching of this reconciliation is 
the preaching of the Gospel. 

Much impatience has been shown in the criticism 
of this conception. Clever men have exhibited their 

v. i8-2i.] RECONCILIATION 813 

talent and courage by calling it " heathenish " ; and 
others have undertaken to apologise for St. Paul by 
describing this objection as " modern." I cannot 
understand how any one should feel entitled either to 
flout the Apostle on this matter, or to take him under 
his patronage. If any one ever had the sense to dis- 
tinguish between what is real and unreal in regard to 
God, between what is true and false spiritually, it was 
he; even with Ritschl on one side and Schmiedel on 
the other he is not dwarfed, and may be permitted to 
speak for himself. The wrath of God, the condem- 
nation of God resting on the sinful world, are not, 
whatever speculative theologians may think, unreal 
things : neither do they belong only to ancient times. 
They are the most real things of which human nature 
has any knowledge till it receives the reconciliation. 
They are as real as a bad conscience ; as real as 
misery, impotence, and despair. And it is the glory 
of the Gospel, as St. Paul understood it, that it deals 
with them as real. It does not tell men that they are 
illusions, and that only their own groundless fear and 
distrust have ever stood between them and God. It 
tells them that God has dealt seriously with these 
serious things for their removal, that awful as they are 
He has put them away by an awful demonstration of 
His love ; it tells them that God has made peace at an 
infinite cost, and that the priceless peace is now freely 
offered to them. 

When St Paul says that God has given him the 
ministry of reconciliation, he means that he is a 
preacher of this peace. He ministers reconciliation 
to the world. His work has no doubt a hortatory 
side, as we shall see, but that side is secondary. It 
i? not the main part of his vocation to tell men to 


make their peace with God, but to tell them that God 
has made peace with the world. At bottom, the 
Gospel is not good advice, but good news. All the good 
advice it gives is summed up in this — Receive the good 
news. But if the good news be taken away ; if we 
cannot say, God has made peace, God has dealt 
seriously with His condemnation of sin, so that it 
no longer stands in the way of your return to Him ; 
if we cannot say, Here is the reconciliation, receive it, — 
then for man's actual state we have no Gospel at all. 

In the nineteenth verse St. Paul explains more* fully 
the way in which he is looking at the subject : x "to 
wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world 
to Himself, not reckoning unto them their trespasses, 
and having committed unto us the word of reconcilia- 
tion." The English Authorised Version puts a comma 
at Christ : " God was in Christ, reconciling the world to 
Himself." It is safe to say that " God was in Christ " 
Js a sentence which neither St. Paul nor any other 
New Testament writer could have conceived ; the 
"was" and the "reconciling" must be taken together, 
and "in Christ" is practically equivalent to "through 
Christ" in the previous verse — God was by means of 
Christ reconciling the world to Himself. " Recon- 
ciling," of course, must be taken in the sense already 
explained. The sentence does not mean that God 
was trying to convert men, or to prevail with them 
to lay aside their enmity, but that He was disposing 
of everything that on His part made peace impossible. 
When Christ's work was done, the reconciliation of the 
world was accomplished. When men were called to 

1 This seems to be the force of lis : it is a violent supposition that 
it means "since," or "for," and that 8ri is a marginal interpretation 
of it which has crept into the text. 

*. 18-21.] RECONCILIATION *i5 

receive it, they were called to a relation to God, not in 
which they would no more be against Him — though 
that is included — but in which they would no more 
have Him against them (Hofmann). There would be 
no condemnation thenceforth to those who were in 
Christ Jesus. 

The connexion of the words " not reckoning unto 
them their trespasses, and having committed unto us 
the word of reconciliation," is rather difficult. The 
last clause certainly refers to something which took 
place after the work of reconciliation had been wrought ; 
Paul was commissioned to tell the story of it. It 
seems most probable that the other is co-ordinate with 
this, so that both are in a sense the evidence for 
the main proposition. It is as if he had said : " God 
was by means of Christ establishing friendly relations 
between the world and Himself, as appears from this, 
that He does not reckon their trespasses unto them, 1 
and has made us preachers of His grace." The very 
universality of the expression — reconciling a world to 
Himself — is consistent only with an objective recon- 
ciliation. It cannot mean that God was overcoming 
the world's enmity (though that is the ulterior object) 
it means that God was putting away His own condem- 
nation and wrath. When this was done, He could 
send, and did send, men to declare that it was done ; 
and among these men, none had a profounder apprecia- 
tion of what God had wrought, and what he himself 
had to declare as God's glad tidings, than the Apostle 

This is the point we reach in ver. 20 : " We are 

1 This makes Xoyi^b^evoi a true present, not an imperfect participle. 
It quite dislocates the sentence if it is co-ordinated with KaTaWA<r<ruv, 
and not with dinevos. 


ambassadors therefore on behalf of Christ, as though 
God were intreating you by us; we beseech you, on 
behalf of Christ, be ye reconciled to God." The Apostle 
has just told us that all is of God, but all is at the same 
time " in Christ," or " through Christ." Hence it is 
on Christ's behalf he comes forward ; it is the further- 
ance of Christ's interests he has at heart. Nay, it is 
that same interest which is at the heart of the Father, 
who desires now to glorify the Son ; so that when Paul 
appeals to men on Christ's behalf it is as though God 
Himself entreated them. Most expositors notice the 
amazing contrast between 7rpeo-j8evo/tei>("we are ambas- 
sadors ") and Seofieda (" we beseech you "). The ambas- 
sador, as a rule, stands upon his dignity ; he maintains 
the greatness of the person whom he represents. But 
Paul in this lowly passionate entreaty is not false to 
his Master ; he is preaching the Gospel in the spirit 
of the Gospel ; he shows that he has really learned of 
Christ ; the very conception of the ambassador descend- 
ing to entreaty is, as Calvin says, an incomparable 
commendation of the grace of Christ. One can imagine 
how Saul the Pharisee would have spoken on God'a 
behalf; with what rigour, what austerity, what un- 
bending, uncompromising assurance. But old things 
have passed away; behold, they have become new. 
This single verse illumines, as by a lightning flash, 
the new world into which the Gospel has translated 
Paul, the new man it has made of him. The fire that 
burned in Christ's heart has caught hold in his; his 
soul is tremulous with passion ; he is conscious of the 
grandeur of his calling, yet there is nothing that he 
would not do to win men for his message. It would 
go to his heart like a sword if he had to take up the 
old lament, " Who hath believed our report ? " In his 

.18-31.] RECONCILIATION 217 

dignity as Christ's ambassador and as the mouthpiece 
of God, in his humility, in his passionate earnestness, 
in the urgency and directness of his appeal, St. Paul 
is the supreme type and example of the Christian 
minister. In the passage before us he presents the 
appeal of the Gospel in its simplest form : wherever 
he stands before men on Christ's behalf his prayer is, 
"Be ye reconciled unto God." And once more we 
must insist on the apostolic import of these words. 
It is the misleading nuance of " reconcile " in English 
that makes so many take them as if they meant, " Lay 
aside your enmity to God ; cease to regard Him with 
distrust, hatred, and fear " ; in other words, " Show 
yourselves His friends." In St. Paul's lips they cannot 
possibly mean anything but, " Accept His offered friend- 
ship ; enter into that peace which He has made for the 
world through the death of His Son ; believe that He 
has at infinite cost put away all that on His part stood 
between you and peace ; receive the reconciliation." 

The Received Text and the Authorised Version attach 
the twenty-first verse to this exhortation by yap (" for ") : 
" For Him who knew no sin He made to be sin on our 
behalf." The " for " is spurious, and though it is not 
inept the sentence gains greatly in impressiveness by 
its omission. The Apostle does not point out the 
connexion for us: in simply declaring the manner in 
which God reconciled the world to Himself — the process 
by which, the cost at which, He made peace — he leaves 
us to feel how vast is the boon which is offered to 
us in the Gospel, how tremendous the responsibility 
of rejecting it. To refuse " the reconciliation " is to 
contemn the death in which the Sinless One was made 
sin on our behalf. 

This wonderful sentence is the inspired commentary 


on the statement of ver. 1 5 — " One died for all. It 
takes us into the very heart of the Apostolic Gospel. 
Just because it does so, it has always been felt to be 
of critical importance, alike by those who welcome and 
by those who reject it ; it condenses and concentrates 
in itself the attraction of Christ and the offence of 
Christ. It is a counsel of despair to evade it. It is not 
the puzzle of the New Testament, but the ultimate 
solution of all puzzles ; it is not an irrational quantity 
that has to be eliminated or explained away, but the 
key-stone of the whole system of apostolic thought. 
It is not a blank obscurity in revelation, a spot of 
impenetrable blackness ; it is the focus, in which the 
reconciling love of God burns with the purest and in- 
tensest flame ; it is the fountain light of all day, the 
master light of all seeing, in the Christian revelation. 
Let us look at it more closely. 

God, we must observe in the first place, is the subject. 
" All " is of Him in the work of reconciliation, and this 
above all, that He made the Sinless One to be sin. I 
have read a book on the Atonement which quoted this 
sentence three times, or rather misquoted it, never once 
recognising that an action of God is involved. But 
without this, there is no coherence in the Apostle's 
thoughts at all. Without this, there would be no ex- 
planation of reconciliation as God's work. God reconciled 
the world to Himself — made peace into which the world 
might enter — in making Christ sin on its behalf. What 
precisely this means we shall inquire further on ; but 
it is essential to remember, whatever it mean, that God 
is the doer of it. 

Observe next the description of Christ — " Him that 
knew no sin." The Greek negative (jifj), as Schmiedel 
remarks, implies that this is regarded as the verdict of 

v.i8-2i.] RECONCILIATION ai? 

some one else than the writer. It was Christ's own 
verdict upon Himself. He whose words search our 
very hearts, and bring to light unsuspected seeds of 
badness, never Himself betrays the faintest conscious- 
ness of guilt. He challenges His enemies directly : 
" Which of you convinceth Me of sin ? " It is the verdict 
of all sincere human souls, as uttered by the soldier 
who watched His cross — "Truly this was a righteous 
man." It is the verdict even of the great enemy who 
assailed Him again and again, and found nothing in 
Him, and whose agents recognised Him as the Holy 
One of God. Above all, it is the verdict of God. He 
was the beloved Son, in whom the Father was well 
pleased. For three-and-thirty years, in . daily contact 
with the world and its sins, Christ lived and yet knew 
no sin. To His will and conscience it was a foreign 
thing. What infinite worth that sinless life possessed 
in God's sight I When He looked down to earth it 
was the one absolutely precious thing. Filled full of 
righteousness, absolutely well-pleasing in His eyes, it 
was worth more to God than all the world beside. 

Now, God reconciled the world to Himself — He made 
a peace which could be proclaimed and offered to the 
world — when, all sinless as Christ was, He made Him 
to be sin on our behalf. What does this mean ? Not, 
exactly, that He made Him a sin-offering on our behalf. 
The expression for a sin-offering is distinct (irepl 
afiaprlasi), and the parallelism with hucaiocrwrr) in the 
next clause forbids that reference here. The sin-offering 
of the Old Testament can at most have pointed towards 
and dimly suggested so tremendous an utterance as 
this ; and the profoundest word of the New Testament 
cannot be adequately interpreted by anything in the 
Old. When St. Paul says, " Him that knew no sin 


God made sin," he must mean that in Christ on His 
cross, by divine appointment, the extremest opposites 
met and became one — incarnate righteousness and the 
sin of the world. The sin is laid by God on the Sinless 
One ; its doom is laid on Him ; His death is the execu- 
tion of the divine sentence upon it. When He dies, 
He has put away sin ; it no longer stands, as it once 
stood, between God and the world. On the contrary, 
God has made peace by this great transaction ; He has 
wrought out reconciliation ; and its ministers can go 
everywhere with this awful appeal : "Receive the recon- 
ciliation ; Him who knew no sin God hath made sin on 
our behalf, and there is henceforth no condemnation to 
them that are in Christ." 

No one who has felt the power of this appeal will 
be very anxious to defend the Apostolic Gospel from 
the charges which are sometimes made against it. 
When he is told that it is impossible for the doom 
of sin to fall on the Sinless One, and that even ii 
it were conceivable it would be frightfully immoral, 
he is not disquieted. He recognises in the moral 
contradictions of this text the surest sign that the 
secret of the Atonement is revealed in it: he feels 
that God's work of reconciliation necessarily involves 
such an identification of sinlessness and sin. He 
knows that there is an appalling side to sin, and he 
is ready to believe that there is an appalling side to 
redemption also — a side the most distant sight of which 
makes the proudest heart quail, and stops every mouth 
before God. He knows that the salvation which he 
needs must be one in which God's mercy comes through, 
and not over, His judgment; and this is the redemption 
which is in Christ Jesus. But without becoming con- 
troversial on a subject on which more than on an^ 

v.i8-2i.] RECONCILIATION 221 

other the temper of controversy is unseemly, reference 
may be made to the commonest form of objection to 
the apostolic doctrine, in the sincere hope that some 
one who has stumbled at that doctrine may see it more 
truly. The objection I refer to discredits propitiation 
in the alleged interest of the love of God. "We do 
not need," the objectors say, "to propitiate an angry 
God. This is a piece of heathenism, of which a 
Christian ought to be ashamed. It is a libel on the 
God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, whose name 
is love, and who waits to be gracious." What are we 
to say to such words, which are uttered as boldly as 
if there were no possible reply, or rather as if the 
Apostles had never written, or had been narrow-minded 
unreceptive souls, who had not only failed to understand 
their Master, but had taught with amazing perversity 
the very opposite of what He taught on the most 
essential of all points — the nature of God and His 
relation to sinful men? We must say this. It is 
quite true that we have not to propitiate an offended 
God : the very fact upon which the Gospel proceeds is 
that we cannot do any such thing. But it is not true 
that no propitiation is needed. As truly ? c guilt is a 
real thing, as truly as God's condemnation of sin is 
a real thing, a propitiation is needed. And it is here, 
I think, that those who make the objection referred to 
part company, not only with St. Paul, but with all the 
Apostles. God is love, they say, and therefore He 
does not require a propitiation. God is love, say the 
Apostles, and therefore He provides a propitiation. 
Which of these doctrines appeals best to the conscience? 
Which of them gives reality, and contents, and sub- 
stance, to the love of God ? Is it not the apostolic 
doctrine ? Does not the other cut out and cast away 


that very thing which made the soul of God's love to 
Paul and John ? " Herein is love, not that we loved 
God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the 
propitiation for our sins." "God commendeth His love 
toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ 
died for us. . . Him that knew no sin He made to be 
sin on our behalf." That is how they spoke in the 
beginning of the Gospel, and so let us speak. Nobody 
has any right to borrow the words " God is love " 
from an apostle, and then to put them in circulation 
after carefully emptying them of their apostolic import. 
Still less has any one a right to use them as an 
argument against the very thing in which the Apostles 
placed their meaning. But this is what they do who 
appeal to love against propitiation. To take the con- 
demnation out of the Cross is to take the nerve out 
of the Gospel ; it will cease to hold men's hearts with 
its original power when the reconciliation which is 
preached through it contains the mercy, but not the 
judgment of God. Its whole virtue, its consistency 
with God's character, its aptness to man's need, its 
real dimensions as a revelation of love, depend ulti- 
mately on this, that mercy comes to us in it through 

In the last words of the passage the Apostle tells 
us the object of this great interposition of God : " He 
made Christ to be sin on our behalf, that we might 
become the righteousness of God in Him." Our con- 
demnation is made His; it is accepted, exhausted, 
annihilated, on His cross; and when we receive the 
reconciliation — when we humble ourselves to be forgiven 
and restored at this infinite cost — there is no longer 
condemnation for us : we are justified by our faith, 
and have peace with God through our Lord Jesus 

v.i 8-2 1.] RECONCILIATION 22$ 

Christ. This is what is meant by becoming the 
righteousness of God in Him. It is not, as the very 
next sentence suggests, all that is included in the 
Christian salvation, but it is all that the words themselves 
contain. " In Him " has all promise in it, as well as 
the present possession of reconciliation, with which the 
Christian life begins; but it is this present possession, 
and not the promise involved in it, which St. Paul 
describes as the righteousness of God. In Christ, 
that Christ who died for us, and in Him in virtue of 
that death which by exhausting condemnation put 
away sin, we are accepted in God's sight. 



"And working together with Hitn we intreat also that ye receive 
not the grace of God in vain (for He saith, 

At an acceptable time I hearkened unto thee, 
And in a day of salvation did I succour thee : 
behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of 
salvation) : giving no occasion of stumbling in anything, that our 
ministration be not blamed ; but in everything commending ourselves, 
as ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, 
in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in 
watchings, in fastings ; in pureness, in knowledge, in long-suffering, 
in kindness, in the Holy Ghost, in love unfeigned, in the word of 
truth, in the power of God ; by the armour of righteousness on the 
right hand and on the left, by glory and dishonour, by evil report and 
good report; as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well 
known ; as dying, and behold, we live ; as chastened, and not killed ; 
as sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; 
as having nothing, and^>«/ possessing all tilings. 

" Our mouth is open unto you, O Corinthians, our heart is enlarged. 
Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own 
affections. Now for a recompense in like kind (I speak as unto my 
children), be ye also enlarged." — 2 Cor. vi. 1-13 (R.V.), 

TH E ministry of the Gospel is a ministry of recon- 
ciliation ; the preacher of the Gospel is primarily 
an evangelist. He has to proclaim that wonderful 
grace of God which made peace between heaven and 
earth through the blood of the Cross, and he has to 
urge men to receive it. Until this is done, there is 


vi. 1-13.] THE SIGNS OF AN APOSTLE t2$ 

nothing else that he can do. But when sinful men 
have welcomed the glad tidings, when they have con- 
sented to accept the peace bought for them with so 
great a price, when they have endured to be forgiven 
and restored to God's favour, not for what they are, 
nor for what they are going to be, but solely for what 
Christ did for them on the cross, then a new situation 
is created, and the minister of the Gospel has a new 
task. It is to that situation St. Paul addresses himself 
here. Recognising the Corinthians as people reconciled 
to God by the death of His Son, he entreats them not 
to receive the grace of God in vain. He does so, 
according to our Bibles, as a fellow-worker with God. 
This is probably right, though some would take the word 
as in chap. i. 24, and make it mean " as fellow-workers 
with you." But it is more natural, when we look to 
what precedes, to think that St. Paul is here identifying 
himself with God's interest in the world, and that he 
speaks out of the proud consciousness of doing so. 
" All is of God," in the great work of redemption ; but 
God does not disdain the sympathetic co-operation of 
men whose hearts He has touched. 

But what is meant by receiving the grace of God in 
vain, or to no purpose ? That might be done in an 
infinite variety of ways, and in reading the words for 
edification we naturally grasp at any clue suggested by 
our circumstances. An expositor is bound to seek his 
clue rather in the circumstances of the Corinthians ; and 
if we have regard to the general tenor of this Epistle, 
and especially to such a passage as chap. xi. 4, we 
shall find the true interpretation without difficulty. 
Paul has explained his Gospel — his proclamation of 
Jesus as Universal Redeemer in virtue of His dying 
the sinner's death, and as Universal Lord in virtue of 



His resurrection from the dead — so explicitly, because 
he fears lest through the influence of some false teacher 
the minds of the Corinthians should be corrupted from 
the simplicity that is toward Christ. It would be 
receiving the grace of God in vain, if, after receiving 
those truths concerning Christ which he had taught 
them, they were to give up his Gospel for another in 
which these truths had no place. This is what he 
dreads and deprecates, both in Corinth and Galatia : 
the precipitate removal from the grace of Christ to 
another Gospel which is no Gospel at all, but a 
subversion of the truth. This is what he means by 
receiving the grace of God in vain. 

There are some minds to which this will not be 
impressive, some to which it will only be provoking. 
It will seem irrelevant and pithless to those who take 
for granted the finality of the distinction between 
religion and theology, or between the theory, as it is 
called, and the fact of the Atonement. But for St. Paul, 
as for all sufficiently earnest and vigorous minds, there 
is a point at which these distinctions disappear. A 
certain theory is seen to be essential to the fact, a 
certain theology to be the constitutive force in the 
religion. The death of Christ was what it was to him 
only because it was capable of a certain interpretation : 
his theory of it, if we choose to put it so, gave it its 
power over him. The love of Christ constrained him 
" because he thus judged " — i.e., because he construed 
it to his intelligence in a way which showed it to be 
irresistible. If these interpretations and constructions 
are rejected, it must not be in the name of " fact " as 
opposed to " theory," but in the name of other inter- 
pretations more adequate and constraining. A fact of 
which there is absolutely no theory is a fact which is 

yi. 1-13.] THE SIGNS OF AN APOSTLE 227 

without relation to anything in the universe — a mere 
irrelevance in man's mind — a blank incredibility — a 
rock in the sky. Paul's "theory" about Christ's death 
for sin was not to him an excrescence on the Gospel, 
or a superfluous appendage to it : it was itself the 
Gospel ; it was the thing in which the very soul of 
God's redeeming love was brought to light ; it was the 
condition under which the love of Christ became to 
him a constraining power ; to receive it and then reject 
it was to receive the grace of God in vain. 

This does not preclude us from the edifying applica- 
tion of these words which a modern reader almost 
instinctively makes. Peace with God is the first and 
deepest need of the sinful soul, but it is not the sum- 
total of salvation. It would, indeed, be received in 
vain, if the soul did not on the basis of it proceed to 
build up the new life in new purity and power. The 
failure to do this is, unhappily, only too common. 
There is no mechanical guarantee for the fruits of the 
Spirit; no assurance, such as would make this appeal 
unnecessary, that every man who has received the 
word of reconciliation will also walk in newness of life. 
But if an evangelical profession, and an immoral life, 
are the ugliest combination of which human nature is 
capable, the force of this appeal ought to be felt by the 
weakest and the worst. " The Son of God loved me, 
and gave Himself for me " : can any of us hide that 
word in his heart, and live on as if it meant nothing 
at all? 

Paul emphasises his appeal to the Corinthians by 
a striking quotation from an ancient prophet (Isa. 
xlix. 8) : " At an acceptable time did I hearken 
unto thee, And in a day of salvation did I succour 
thee " ; and he points it by the joyful exclamation : 


" Behold, now is the acceptable time ; behold, now is the 
day of salvation." The passage in Isaiah refers to the 
servant of Jehovah, and some scholars would insist 
that even in the quotation a primary application must 
be made to Christ. The ambassadors of the Gospel 
represent His interest (chap. v. 20) ; this verse is, as it 
were, the answer to His prayer : " Father, the hour is 
come : glorify Thy Son." In answering the Son, the 
Father introduces the era of grace for all who are, 
or shall be, Christ's : behold, now is the time in which 
God shows us favour; now is the day on which He 
saves us. This is rather scholastic than apostolic, 
and it is far more probable that St. Paul borrows the 
prophet's words, as he often does, because they suit 
him, without thinking of their original application. 
What is striking in the passage, and characteristic both 
of the writer and of the New Testament, is the union 
of urgency and triumph in the tone. " Now " does 
certainly mean " now or never " ; but more prominently 
still it means " in a time so favoured as this : in a time 
so graced with opportunity." The best illustration of 
it is the saying of Jesus to the Apostles : " Blessed are 
your eyes, for they see ; and your ears, for they hear. 
For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and 
righteous men have desired to see those things which 
ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those 
things which ye hear, and have not heard them." Now, 
that we live under the reign of grace ; now, when God's 
redeeming love, omnipotent to save, shines on us from 
the Cross ; now, that the last days have come, and the 
Judge is at the door, let us with all seriousness, and 
all joy, work out our own salvation, lest we make the 
grace of God of no effect. 

St Paul is as careful himself as he would have the 

vi. 1-13.] THE SIGNS OF AN APOSTLE 229 

Corinthians to be. He does not wish them to receive 
the Gospel in vain, and he takes pains that it shall 
not be frustrated through any fault of his : " working 
together with God we intreat you . giving no 

occasion of stumbling in anything, that our ministra- 
tion be not blamed." It is almost implied in a sentence 
like this that there are people who will be glad of an 
excuse not to listen to the Gospel, or not to take it 
seriously, and that they will look for such an excuse 
in the conduct of its ministers. Anything in the 
minister to which objection can be raised will be used 
as a shield against the Gospel. It does not matter that 
in nine cases out of ten this plea for declining the grace 
of God is impudent hypocrisy ; it is one which the non- 
Christian should never have. If it is not the chief end 
of the evangelist to give no occasion of stumbling, it is 
one of his chief rules. This is a matter on which Jesus 
lays great stress. The severest words He ever spoke 
were spoken against these whose conduct made faith 
hard and unbelief easy. Of course they were spoken 
to all, but they have special application to those who 
are so directly identified with the Gospel as its ministers. 
It is to them men naturally look for the proof of what 
grace does. If its reception has been in vain in them ; 
if they have not learned the spirit of their message ; if 
their pride, or indolence, or avarice, or ill-nature, pro- 
voke the anger or contempt of those to whom they 
preach, — then their ministration is blamed, and the 
shadow of that censure falls upon their message. The 
grace of God which has to be proclaimed through 
human lips, and to attest itself by its power over 
human lives, might seem to be put in this way to too 
great hazard in the world ; but it has God behind it, 
or rather it is itself God at work in His ministers a» 


their humility and fidelity allow Him ; and in spite of 
the occasions of stumbling for which there is no excuse, 
God is always able to make grace prevail. Through 
the faults of its ministers, nay, sometimes even with 
those faults as a foil, men see how good and how 
strong that grace is. 

It is not easy to comment on the glowing passage 
(vv. 4-10) in which St. Paul expands this sober habit 
of giving no occasion of stumbling in anything into 
a description of his apostolic ministry. Logically, its 
value is obvious enough. He means the Corinthians 
to feel that if they turn away from the Gospel which 
he has preached to them they are passing censure 
lightly on a life of unparalleled devotion and power. 
He commends himself to them, as God's servants ought 
always to do, 1 by the life which he leads in the exercise 
of his ministry ; and to reject his Gospel is to condemn 
his life as worthless or misspent. Will they venture 
to do that when they are reminded of what it is, and 
when they feel that it is all this for them ? No right- 
minded man will, without provocation, speak about 
himself, but Paul is doubly protected. He is challenged, 
by the threatened desertion from the Gospel of some, 
at least, of the Corinthians ; and it is not so much 
of himself he speaks, as of the ministers of Christ ; not 
so much on his own behalf, as on behalf of the Gospel. 
The fountains of the great deep are broken up within 
him as he thinks of what is at issue ; he is in all 
straits, as he begins, and can speak only in unconnected 
words, one at a time ; but before he stops he has won 
his liberty, and pours out his soul without restraint. 

It is needless to comment on each of the eight-and 

1 Observe that it is ws 8eo0 iiixovoi, not 8iaic6vevt, 


■ 1 . — .ii 1 —11 ......■■-■■■ — ■ 1 ■ ■ — — . . . ■ , 1 . > r .. 1 1 ■ 

twenty separate phrases in which St. Paul charac- 
erises his life as a minister of the Gospel. But there 
ire what might be called breathing-places, if not logical 
pauses, in the outburst of feeling, and these, as it 
lappens, coincide with the introduction of new aspects 
of his work. (1) At first he depicts exclusively, and 
in single words, its passive side. Christ had shown 
him at his conversion how great things he must suffer 
for His name's sake (Acts ix. 16), and here is his own 
confirmation of the Lord's word : he has ministered 
"in much patience — in afflictions, in necessities, in 
distresses ; in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults " — 
where the enmity of men was conspicuous ; " in labours, 
in watchings, in fastings " — freely exacted by his own 
devotion. These nine words are all, in a manner, 
subordinated to " much patience " ; his brave endurance 
was abundantly shown in every variety of pain and 
distress. (2) At ver. 6 he makes a new start, and 
now it is not the passive and physical aspect of his 
work that is in view, but the active and spiritual. All 
that weight of suffering did not extinguish in him 
the virtues of the new life, or the special gifts of the 
Christian minister. He wrought, he reminds them, " in 
purity, in knowledge, in long-suffering, in kindness, in 
the Holy Spirit, in love unfeigned, in the word of 
truth, in the power of God." The precise import of 
some of these expressions may be doubtful, but this 
is of less consequence than the general tenor of the 
whole, which is unmistakable. Probably some of the 
terms, strictly taken, would cross each other. Thus 
the Holy Spirit and the power of God, if we compare 
such passages as 1 Cor. ii. 4, 1 Thess. i. 5, are very 
nearly akin. The same remark would apply to 
" knowledge," and to " the word of truth," if the latter. 


refers, as I cannot but think it does, 1 to the Gospel. 
" Purity " is naturally taken in the widest sense, and 
" undissembled love " is peculiarly appropriate when 
we think of the feelings with which some of the 
Corinthians regarded Paul. But the main thing to 
notice is how the " much endurance," which, to a super- 
ficial observer, is the most conspicuous characteristic of 
the Apostle's ministry, is balanced by a great mani- 
festation of spiritual force from within. Of all men in 
the world he was the weakest to look at, the most 
battered, burdened, and depressed, yet no one else had 
in him such a fountain as he of the most powerful and 
gracious life. And then (3) after another pause, marked 
this time by a slight change in the construction (from 
iv to Bia), he goes on to enlarge upon the whole 
conditions under which his ministry is fulfilled, and 
especially on the extraordinary contrasts which are 
reconciled in it. We commend ourselves in our work, 
he says, " by the armour of righteousness on the right 
hand and the left, by glory and dishonour, by evil 
report and good report : as deceivers, and yet true ; as 
unknown, and yet coming to be well known ; as dying, 
and behold, we live ; as chastened, and not killed ; as 
sorrowing, yet ever rejoicing; as poor, yet making 
many rich ; as having nothing, and yet possessing all 
things." Here again it is not the details that are 
important, but the whole, and yet the details require 
notice. The armour of righteousness is that which 
righteousness supplies, or it may even be that which 
righteousness is : Paul's character equips him right and 
left ; it is both spear and shield, and makes him 
competent either for attack or defence. Without 

1 Some, because of the want of the article, make it equivalent to 


vl. 1-13.] THE SIGNS OF AN APOSTLE 433 

righteousness, in this sense of integrity, he could not 
commend himself in his work as a minister of God. 1 
But not only does his real character commend him ; 
his reputation does the same service, however various 
that reputation may be. Through honour and dishonour, 
through evil report and good report — through the truth 
that is told about him, and through the lies — through 
the esteem of his friends, the malignity of his enemies, 
the contempt of strangers — the same man comes out, 
in the same character, devoted always in the same 
spirit to the same calling. It is indeed his very devotion 
which produces these opposite estimates, and hence, 
inconsistent as they are, they agree in recommending 
him as a servant of God. Some said "He is beside 
himself," and others would have plucked out their eyes 
for his sake, yet both these extremely opposite attitudes 
were produced by the very same thing — the passionate 
earnestness with which he served Christ in the Gospel. 
There are good scholars who think that the clauses 
beginning "as deceivers, and true," are the Apostle's 
own commentary on " through evil report and good 
report"; in other words, that in these clauses he is 
giving samples of the way in which he was spoken of, 
to his honour or dishonour, and glorying that honour 
and dishonour alike only guaranteed more thoroughly 
his claim to be a minister of God. This might suit the 
first two pairs of contrasts ("as deceivers, and true; 
as unknown, and gaining recognition "), but it does not 
suit the next (" as dying, and behold we live "), in which, 
as in those that follow, the Apostle is not repeating 
what was said by others, but speaking for himself, and 
stating truth equally on both sides of the account. 

1 Beet, however, takes it in the technical sense : justification by 
faith is the preacher's sword and shield. 


After the first pair, there is no " dishonour," or " evil 
report," in any of the states which he contrasts with 
each other: though opposites, they have each their 
truth, and the power and beauty of the passage, and of 
the life which it describes, lie simply in this, that both 
are true, and that through all such contrasts St. Paul 
can prove himself the same loyal minister of the 

Each pair of opposites might furnish by itself a 
subject for discourse, but what we are rather concerned 
with is the impression produced by the whole. In 
their variety they give us a vivid idea of the range of 
St. Paul's experiences ; in the regularity with which 
he puts the higher last, and in the climax with which 
he concludes, they show the victorious spirit with 
which he confronted all that various life. An ordinary 
Christian — an ordinary minister of the Gospel — may 
well feel, as he reads, that his own life is by com- 
parison empty and commonplace. There is not that 
terrible pressure on him from without; there is not 
that irrepressible fountain of grace within ; there is not 
that triumphant spirit which can subdue all the world 
contains — honour and dishonour, evil report and good 
report — and make it pay tribute to the Gospel, and to 
himself as a Gospel minister. Yet the world has still 
all possible experiences ready for those who give 
themselves to the service of God with the whole- 
heartedness of Paul : it will show them its best and its 
worst; its reverence, affection, and praise; its hatred, 
its indifference, its scorn. And it is in the facing of 
all such experiences by God's ministers that the ministry 
receives its highest attestation : they are enabled to 
turn all to profit ; in ignominy and in honour alike 
they are made more than conquerors through Him 


who loved them. St. Paul's plea rises involuntarily 
into a paean ; he begins, as we saw, with the embar- 
rassed tone of a man who wishes to persuade others 
that he has taken sincere pains not to frustrate his 
work by faults he could have avoided — " giving no 
occasion of stumbling in anything, that the ministry be 
not blamed " ; but he is carried higher and higher, as 
the tide of feeling rises within him, till it sets him 
beyond the reach of blame or praise — at Christ's right 
hand, where all things are his. Here is a signal fulfil- 
ment of that word of the Lord : "lam come that they 
might have life, and might have it more abundantly." 
Who could have it more abundantly, more triumphantly 
strong through all its vicissitudes, than the man who 
dictated these lines? 

The passage closes with an appeal in which Paul 
descends from this supreme height to the most direct 
and affectionate address. He names his readers by 
name : " Our mouth is open unto you, O Corinthians ; l 
our heart is enlarged." He means that he has treated 
them with the utmost frankness and cordiality. With 
strangers we use reserve ; we do not let ourselves go, 
nor indulge in any effusion of heart. But he has not 
made strangers of them ; he has relieved his over- 
charged heart before them, and he has established a 
new claim on their confidence in doing so. " Ye are 
not straitened in us," he writes ; that is, " The awkward- 
ness and constraint of which you are conscious in your 
relations with me are not due to anything on my side ; 
my heart has been made wide, and you have plenty 
of room in it. But you are straitened in your own 
affections. It is your hearts that are narrow : cramped 

1 Rara et pratsentissima appellatio (Bengel), 


and confined with unworthy suspicions, and with the 
feeling that you have done me a wrong which you are not 
quite prepared to rectify. Overcome these ungenerous 
thoughts at once. Give me a recompense in kind for 
my treatment of you. I have opened my heart wide, 
to you and for you ; open your hearts as freely, to me 
and for me. I am your father in Christ, and I have a 
right to this from my children." 

When we take this passage as a whole, in its original 
bearings, one thing is plain : that want of love and 
confidence between the minister of the Gospel and those 
to whom he ministers has great power to frustrate the 
grace of God. There may have been a real revival 
under the minister's preaching — a real reception of 
the grace which he proclaims — but all will be in vain 
if mutual confidence fails. If he gives occasion of 
stumbling in something, and the ministry is blamed ; 
or if malice and falsehood sow the seeds of dissension 
between him and his brethren, the grand condition of 
an effective ministry is gone. " Beloved, let us love 
one another," if we do not wish the virtue of the Cross 
to be of no effect in us. 



"Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers: for what fellowship 
have righteousness and iniquity? or what communion hath light 
with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or 
what portion hath a believer with an unbeliever ? And what agree- 
ment hath a temple of God with idols ? for we are a temple of the 
living God; even as God said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; 
and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Wherefore 

Come ye out from among hem, and be ye separate, 
saith the Lord, 

And touch no unclean thing ; 

And 1 will receive you, 

And will be to you a Father, 

And ye shall be to Me sons and daughters, 
saith the Lord Almighty. Having therefore these promises, beloved, 
let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, 
perfecting holiness in the fear of God." — 2 Cor. vi. 14-vii. 1 (R. V.). 

THIS is one of the most peculiar passages in the 
New Testament. Even a careless reader must 
feel that there is something abrupt and unexpected 
in it ; it jolts the mind as a stone on the road does a 
carriage wheel. Paul has been begging the Corinthians 
to treat him with the same love and confidence which 
he has always shown to them, and he urges this claim 
upon them up to ver. 13. Then comes this passage 
about the relation of Christians to the world. Then 
again, at chap. vii. 2 — " Open your hearts to us ; we 
wronged no man, we corrupted no man, we took 



advantage of no man " — he returns to the old subject 
without the least mark of transition. If everything 
were omitted from chap. vi. 14 to chap. vii. 1 inclusive, 
the continuity both of thought and feeling would be 
much more striking. This consideration alone has 
induced many scholars to believe that these verses do 
not occupy their original place. The ingenious sug- 
gestion has been made that they are a fragment of the 
letter to which the Apostle refers in the First Epistle 
(chap. v. 9) : the sentiment, and to some extent even 
the words, favour this conjecture. But as there is no 
external authority for any conjecture whatever, and 
no variation in the text, such suggestions can never 
become conclusive. It is always possible that, on 
reading over his letter, the Apostle himself may have 
inserted a paragraph breaking to some extent the 
closeness of the original connexion. If there is nothing 
in the contents of the section inconsistent with his 
mind, the breach of continuity is not enough to dis- 
credit it. 

Some, however, have gone further than this. They 
have pointed to the strange formulae of quotation — " as 
God said," " saith the Lord," " saith the Lord Almighty " 
— as unlike Paul. Even the main idea of the passage 
— "touch not any unclean thing" — is asserted to be 
at variance with his principles. A narrow Jewish 
Christian might, it is said, have expressed this shrink- 
ing from what is unclean, in the sense of being associated 
with idolatry, but not the great Apostle of liberty. At 
all events he would have taken care, in giving such 
an advice under special circumstances, to safeguard 
the principle of freedom. And, finally, an argument is 
drawn from language. The only point at which it is 
even plausible is that which touches upon the use 

vi. 14-vii. 1.] NEW TESTAMENT PURITANISM *39- 

of the terms "flesh" and "spirit" in chap. vii. 1. 
Schmiedel, who has an admirable excursus on the 
whole question, decides that this, and this only, is 
certainly un-Pauline. It is certainly unusual in Paul, 
but I do not think we can say more. The "rigour 
and vigour" with which Paul's use of these terms is 
investigated seems to me largely misplaced. They did 
undoubtedly tend to become technical in his mind, but 
words so universally and so vaguely used could never 
become simply technical. If any contemporary of Paul 
could have written, " Let us cleanse ourselves from all 
defilement of flesh and spirit," then Paul himself could 
have written it. Language offers the same latitudes; 
and liberties to everybody, and one could not imagine 
a subject which tempted less to technicality than the 
one urged in these verses. Whatever the explanation 
of their apparently irrelevant insertion here, I can see 
nothing in them alien to Paul. Puritanism is certainly 
more akin to the Old Testament than to the New, and 
that may explain the instinctiveness with which the 
writer seems to turn to the law and the prophets, and 
the abundance of his quotations ; but though " all 
things are lawful " to the Christian, Puritanism has a 
place in the New Testament too. There is no con- 
ception of " holiness " into which the idea of " separa- 
tion " does not enter ; and though the balance of 
elements may vary in the New Testament as compared 
with the Old, none can be wanting. From this point 
of view we can best examine the meaning and applica- 
tion of the passage. If a connexion is craved, the 
best, I think, is that furnished by a combination of 
Calvin and Meyer. Quasi recuperata auctoritate, says 
Calvin, liberius jam eos objurgat : this supplies a link 
of feeling between vv. 13 and 14. A link of thought 


is supplied if we consider with Meyer that inattention 
to the rule of life here laid down was a notable cause 
of receiving the grace of God in vain (ver. i). 1 Let 
us notice (i) the moral demand of the passage; (2) the 
assumption on which it rests ; (3) the Divine promise 
which inspires its observance. 

(1) The moral demand is first put in the negative 
form : " Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers." The 
peculiar word €Tepo£v<yovvTe<i (" unequally yoked ") has a 
cognate form in Lev. xix. 19, in the law which forbids 
the breeding of hybrid animals. God has established 
a good physical order in the world, and it is not to 
be confounded and disfigured by the mixing of species. 
It is that law (or perhaps another form of it in Deut. 
xxii. io, forbidding an Israelite to plough with an ox 
and an ass under the same yoke) that is applied in an 
ethical sense in this passage. There is a wholesome 
moral order in the world also, and it is not to be con- 
fused by the association of its different kinds. The 
common application of this text to the marriage of 
Christians and non-Christians is legitimate, but too 
narrow. The text prohibits every kind of union in 
which the separate character and interest of the Chris- 
tian lose anything of their distinctiveness and integrity. 

1 An ingenious defence of the place of these verses has been made 
by Godet in his Introduction to St. Paul's Epistles. At chap. vi. 10 
the Apostle suddenly stops, amazed, as it were, at himself and at what 
the Spirit has just dictated to him. His heart swells, and he longs to 
embrace the thankless Church to which he writes. What can be 
the cause of its ingratitude ? It is this. He has inexorably exacted 
from them a sacrifice claimed by their Christian profession — abstinence 
from banquets, etc., in idol temples (i Cor. x.). But he has had no 
choice ; the promises God makes to His sons and daughters are made 
on condition of such separation. Hence the entreaty in vii. 2f., 
" Make room for me in your hearts : I have not deserved ill of any 
■one by what 1 have done."— Introduction, p. 381. 


This is brought out more strongly in the free quotation 
from Isa. lii. 11 in ver. 17 : "Come out from among 
them, and be separate, saith the Lord, and touch not 
anything unclean." These words were originally ad- 
dressed to the priests who, on the redemption of Israel 
from Babylon, were to carry the sacred temple vessels 
back to Jerusalem. But we must remember that, though 
they are Old Testament words, they are quoted by a 
New Testament writer, who inevitably puts his own 
meaning into them. " The unclean thing " which no 
Christian is to touch is not to be taken in a precise 
Levitical sense ; it covers, and I have no doubt was 
intended by the writer to cover, all that it suggests to 
any simple Christian mind now. We are to have no 
compromising connexion with anything in the world 
which is alien to God. Let us be as loving and con- 
ciliatory as we please, but as long as the world is what 
it is, the Christian life can only maintain itself in it in 
an attitude of protest. There always will be things 
and people to whom the Christian has to say No 1 

But the moral demand of the passage is put in a 
more positive form in the last verse : " Let us cleanse 
ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, per- 
fecting holiness in the fear of God." That is the ideal 
of the Christian life. There is something to be over- 
come and put away ; there is something to be wrought 
out and completed ; there is a spiritual element or 
atmosphere — the fear of God — in which alone these 
tasks can be accomplished. The fear of God is an 
Old Testament name for true religion, and even under 
the New Testament it holds its place. The Seraphim 
still veil their faces while they cry " Holy, holy, holy is 
the Lord of Hosts," and still we must feel that great 
awe descend upon our hearts if we would be partakers 



of His holiness. It is this which withers up sin to the 
root, and enables us to cleanse ourselves from all 
defilement of flesh and spirit. St. Paul includes him- 
self in his exhortation here : it is one duty, one ideal, 
which is set before all. The prompt decisive side of it 
is represented in Kadapiacafiev ("let us cleanse" : observe 
the aorist); its patient laborious side in eViTeXoGire? 
aycaMrvvqv ("carrying holiness to completion)." Almost 
everybody in a Christian Church makes a beginning 
with this task : we cleanse ourselves from obvious and 
superficial defilements ; but how few carry the work 
on into the spirit, how few carry it on ceaselessly 
towards perfection. As year after year rolls by, as 
the various experiences of life come to us with their 
lessons and their discipline from God, as we see the 
lives of others, here sinking ever deeper and deeper 
into the corruptions of the world, there rising daily 
nearer and nearer to the perfect holiness which is their 
goal, does not this demand assert its power over us ? 
Is it not a great thing, a worthy thing, that we should 
set ourselves to purge away from our whole nature, 
outward and inward, whatever cannot abide the holy 
eye of God; and that we should regard Christian 
holiness, not as a subject for casual thoughts once a 
week, but as the task to be taken up anew, with 
unwearying diligence, every day we live ? Let us be 
in earnest with this, for surely God is in earnest. 

(2) Observe now the assumption on which the demand 
not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers is based. 
It is that there are two ethical or spiritual interests in 
the world, and that these are fundamentally inconsis- 
tent with each other. This implies that in choosing 
the one, the other has to be rejected. But it implies 
more : it implies that at bottom there are only two 

vi. 14-vii. 1.] NEW TESTAMENT PURITANISM 243 

kinds of people in the world — those who identify them- 
selves with the one of these interests, and those who 
identify themselves with the other. 

Now, as long as this is kept in an abstract form 
people do not quarrel with it. They have no objection 
to admit that good and evil are the only spiritual forces 
in the world, and that they are mutually exclusive. 
But many will not admit that there are only two kinds 
of persons in the world, answering to these two forces. 
They would rather say there is only one kind of persons, 
in whom these forces are with infinite varieties and modi- 
fications combined. This seems more tolerant, more 
humane, more capable of explaining the amazing mix- 
tures and inconsistencies we see in human lives. But 
it is not more true. It is a more penetrating insight 
which judges that every man — despite his range of 
neutrality — would in the last resort choose his side ; 
would, in short, in a crisis of the proper kind, prove 
finally that he was not good and bad, but good or bad. 
We cannot pretend to judge others, but sometimes men 
udge themselves, and always God can judge. And 
there is an instinct in those who are perfecting holiness 
in the fear of God which tells them, without in the 
least making them Pharisaical, not only what things,, 
but what persons — not only what ideas and practices, 
but what individual characters — are not to be made 
friends of. It is no pride, or scorn, or censoriousness, 
which speaks thus, but the voice of all Christian experi- 
ence. It is recognised at once where the young are 
concerned : people are careful of the friends their 
children make, and a schoolmaster will dismiss inexor- 
ably, not only a bad habit, but a bad boy, from the 
school. It ought to be recognised just as easily in 
maturity as in childhood : there are men and women, 


as well as boys and girls, who distinctly represent evil, 
and whose society is to be declined. To protest against 
them, to repel them, to resent their life and conduct as 
morally offensive, is a Christian duty; it is the first 
step towards evangelising them. 

It is worth noticing in the passage before us how the 
Apostle, starting from abstract ideas, descends, as he 
becomes more urgent, into personal relations. What 
fellowship have righteousness and lawlessness ? None. 
What communion has light with darkness? None. 
What concord has Christ with Belial ? Here the 
persons come in who are the heads, or representatives, 
of the opposing moral interests, and it is only now that 
we feel the completeness of the antagonism. The 
interest of holiness is gathered up in Christ; the 
interest of evil in the great adversary ; and they have 
nothing in common. And so with the believer and the 
unbeliever. Of course there is ground on which they 
can meet : the same sun shines on them, the same soil 
supports them, they breathe the same air. But in all 
that is indicated by those two names — believer and 
unbeliever — they stand quite apart ; and the distinction 
thus indicated reaches deeper than any bond of union. 
It is not denied that the unbeliever may have much 
that is admirable about him ; but for the believer the 
one supremely important thing in the world is that 
which the unbeliever denies, and therefore the more he 
is in earnest the less can he afford the unbeliever's 
friendship. We need all the help we can get to fight 
the good fight of faith, and to perfect holiness in the 
fear of God ; and a friend whose silence numbs faith, 
or whose words trouble it, is a friend no earnest Chris- 
tian dare keep. Words like these would not seem so 
hard if the common faith of Christians were felt to be 


a real bond of union among them, and if the recoil from 
the unbelieving world were seen to be the action of the 
whole Christian society, the instinct of self-preservation 
in the new Christian life. But, at whatever risk of 
seeming harsh, it must be repeated that there has 
never been a state of affairs in the world in which the 
commandment had no meaning, " Come out from among 
them, and be ye separate " ; nor an obedience to this 
commandment which did not involve separation from 
persons as well as from principles. 

(3) But what bulks most largely in the passage is 
the series of divine promises which are to inspire and 
sustain obedience. The separations which an earnest 
Christian life requires are not without their compensa- 
tion ; to leave the world is to be welcomed by God. It 
is probable that the pernicious association which the 
writer had immediately in view was iisociation with 
the heathen in their worship, or at least in their sacri- 
ficial feasts. At all events it is the inconsistency of 
this with the worship of the true God t?**t forms the 
climax of his expostulation — What agreement hath a 
temple of God with idols ? and it is to this again, that 
the encouraging promises are attached. M We" says 
the Apostle, "are a temple of the living C r >d." This 
carries with it all that he has claimed : fc a temple 
means a house in which God dwells, and Go ' can only 
dwell in a holy place. Pagans and Jews alfte recog- 
nised the sanctity of their temples : nothing wa» guarded 
more jealously ; nothing, if violated, was more promptly 
and terribly avenged. Paul had seen the day vhen he 
gave his vote to shed the blood of a man who had 
spoken disrespectfully of the Temple at Jerusalem, ind 
the day was coming when he himself was to run vhe 
risk of his life on the mere suspicion that he had KVn 


a pagan into the holy' place. He expects Christians to 
be as much in earnest as Jews to keep the sanctity of 
God's house inviolate ; and now, he says, that house 
are we : it is ourselves we have to keep unspotted from 
the world. 

We are God's temple in accordance with the central 
promise of the old covenant : as God said, " I will dwell 
in them and walk in them, and I will be their God, and 
they shall be My people." The original of this is 
Lev. xxvi. II, 12. The Apostle, as has been observed 
already, takes the Old Testament words in a New 
Testament sense : as they stand here in Second 
Corinthians they mean something much more intimate 
and profound than in their old place in Leviticus. But 
even there, he tells us, they are a promise to us. What 
God speaks, He speaks to His people, and speaks once 
for all. And if the divine presence in the camp of 
Israel — a presence represented by the Ark and its 
tent — was to consecrate that nation to Jehovah, and 
inspire them with zeal to keep the camp clean, that 
nothing might offend the eyes of His glory, how much 
more ought those whom God has visited in His Son, 
those in whom He dwells through His Spirit, to cleanse 
themselves from every defilement, and make their souls 
fit for His habitation ? After repeating the charge to 
come out and be separate, the writer heaps up new 
promises, in which the letter and the spirit of various 
Old Testament passages are freely combined. 1 The 
principal one seems to be 2 Sam. vii., which contains 
the promises originally made to Solomon. At ver. 14 
of that chapter we have the idea of the paternal and 

1 So freely that Ewald thinks the words from K&yCi tloStj-o/Mu on- 
ward are a quotation from some unknown source : as, t.g., Eph. v. 14. 


filial relation, and at ver. 8 the speaker is described in 
the LXX., as here, as the Lord Almighty. But passages 
like Jer. xxxi. 1, 9, also doubtless floated through the 
writer's mind, and it is the substance, not the form, 
which is the main thing. The very freedom with which 
they are reproduced shows us how thoroughly the 
writer is at home, and how confident he is that he 
is making the right and natural application of these 
ancient promises. 

Separate yourselves, for you are God's temple : 
separate yourselves, and you will be sons and daugh- 
ters of the Lord Almighty, and He will be your Father. 
Hcec una ratio instar mille esse debet. The friendship 
of the world, as James reminds us, is enmity with God ; 
it is the consoling side of the same truth that separa- 
tion from the world means friendship with God. It 
does not mean solitude, but a more blessed society ; 
not renunciation of love, but admission to the only love 
which satisfies the soul, because that for which the soul 
was made. The Puritanism of the New Testament is 
no harsh, repellent thing, which eradicates the affections, 
and makes life bleak and barren ; it is the condition 
under which the heart is opened to the love of God, 
and filled with all comfort and joy in obedience. With 
Him on our side — with the promise of His indwelling 
Spirit to sanctify us, of His fatherly kindness to enrich 
and protect us — shall we not obey the exhortation to 
come out and be separate, to cleanse ourselves from all 
that defiles, to perfect holiness in His fear ? 



u Open your hearts to us : we wronged no man, we corrupted no 
man, we took advantage of no man. I say it not to condemn yow. 
for I have said before, that ye are in our hearts to die together and 
live together. Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is 
my glorying on your behalf : I am filled with comfort, I overflow with 
joy in all our affliction. 

" For even when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no 
relief, but we were afflicted on every side; without were fightings, 
within were fears. Nevertheless He that comforteth the lowly, even 
God, comforted us by the coming of Titus ; and not by his coming 
only, but also by the comfort wherewith he was comforted in you, 
while he told us your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me ; so 
that I rejoiced yet more. For though I made you sorry with my 
epistle, I do not regret it, though I did regret ; for I see that that 
epistle made you sorry, though but for a season. Now I rejoice, 
not that ye were made sorry, but that ye were made sorry unto 
repentance : for ye were made sorry after a godly sort, that ye 
might suffer loss by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repent- 
ance unto salvation, a repentance which bringeth no regret : but 
the sorrow of the world worketh death. For behold, this selfsame 
thing, that ye were made sorry after a godly sort, what earnest care 
it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indig- 
nation, yea, what fear, yea, what longing, yea, what zeal, yea, what 
avenging 1 In everything ye approved yourselves to be pure in the 
matter. So although I wrote'unto you, / wrote not for his cause that 
did the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered the wrong, but that 
your earnest care for us might be made manifest unto you in the sight 
of God. Therefore we have been comforted : and in our comfort we 
joyed the more exceedingly for the joy of Titus, because his spirit 
hath been refreshed by you all. For if in anything I have gloried to 
him on your behalf, I was not put to shame ; but as we spake all 
vhin s to you in truth, so our glorying also, which I made before 



Titus, was found to be truth. And his inward affection is more 
abundantly toward you, whilst he remembereth the obedience of you 
a':l, how with fear and trembling ye received him. I rejoice that in 
everything I am of good courage concerning you." — 2 Cor. vii. 2-16 


IN this fine passage St. Paul completes, as far as it 
lay upon his side to do so, his reconciliation with 
the Corinthians. It concludes the first great division 
of his Second Epistle, and henceforth we hear no more 
of the sinner censured so severely in the First (chap, v.), 1 
or of the troubles which arose in the Church over the 
disciplinary treatment of his sin. The end of a quarrel 
between friends is like the passing away of a storm ; 
the elements are meant to be at peace with each other, 
and nature never looks so lovely as in the clear shining 
after rain. The effusion of feeling in this passage, so 
affectionate and unreserved ; the sense that the storm- 
clouds have no more than left the sky, yet that fair 
weather has begun, make it conspicuously beautiful even 
in the writings of St. Paul. 

He begins by resuming the appeal interrupted at 
chap. vi. 13. He has charged the Corinthians with being 
straitened in their own affections : distrust and calumny 
have narrowed their souls, nay, shut them against him 
altogether. " Receive us," he exclaims here — i.e., open 
your hearts to us. "You have no cause to be reserved : 
we wronged no man, ruined no man, took advantage 
of no man." Such charges had doubtless been made 
against him. The pomt of the last is clear from chap, 
xii. 16-18: he had been accused of making money out of 
his apostolic work among them. The other words are 
less precise, especially the one rendered " corrupted " 

1 But see on chap. ii. 5-11. 


(tydelpafiev), which should perhaps be rather explained, 
as in I Cor. iii. 17, "destroyed." Paul has not wronged 
or ruined any one in Corinth. Of course, his Gospel 
made serious demands upon people : it insisted on readi- 
ness to make sacrifices, and on actual sacrifice besides ; 
it proceeded with extreme severity against sinners like 
the incestuous man ; it entailed obligations, as we shall 
presently hear, to help the poor even of distant lands ; 
and then, as still, such claims might easily be resented 
as ruinous or unjust. St. Paul simply denies the 
charge. He does not retort it ; it is not his object to 
condemn those whom he loves so utterly. He has told 
them already that they are in his heart to die together 
and to live together (vi. 1 1 ) ; and when this is so, there 
is no place for recrimination or bandying of reproaches. 
He is full of confidence in them ; 1 he can freely make 
his boast of them. He has had affliction enough, but 
over it all he has been filled with consolation ; even 
as he writes, his joy overflows (observe the present 

That word — " ye are in our hearts to die together and 
to live together " — is the key to all that follows. It has 
suffered much at the hands of grammarians, for whom it 
has undeniable perplexities ; but vehement emotion may 
be permitted to be in some degree inarticulate, and we 
can always feel, even if we cannot demonstrate, what 
it means. " Your image in my heart accompanies me 
in death and life,"* is as nearly as possible what the 
Apostle says ; and if the order of the words is unusual 
— -for " life " would naturally stand first — that may be due 

1 This is, I think, the only possible meaning of iroXXi) /xoi irafyrjata irpbt 

2 So Schmiedel. 

vii.2-i6.] REPENTANCE UNTO LIFE 251 

to the fact, so largely represented in chap, iv., that his 
life was a series of deadly perils, and of ever-renewed 
deliverances from them, a daily dying and a daily 
resurrection, through all the vicissitudes of which the 
Corinthians never lost their place in his heart. More 
artificial interpretations only obscure the intensity of 
that love which united the Apostle to his converts. It 
is levelled here, unconsciously no doubt, but all the more 
impressively, with the love which God in Christ Jesus 
our Lord bears to His redeemed. " I am persuaded," 
St Paul writes to the Romans, " that neither death nor 
life can separate us from that." " You may be assured," 
he writes here to the Corinthians, " that neither death 
nor life can separate you from my love." The reference 
of death and life is of course different, but the strength 
of conviction and of emotion is the same in both cases. 
St. Paul's heart is pledged irrevocably and irreversibly 
to the Church. In the deep feeling that he is theirs, 
he has an assurance that they also are his. The love 
with which he loves them is bound to prevail ; nay, it 
has prevailed, and he can hardly find words to express 
his joy. En qualiter affectos esse omnes Pastores con- 
veniat (Calvin). 

The next three verses carry us back to chap. ii. 12 ff., 
and resume the story which was interrupted there at 
ver. 14. The sudden thanksgiving of that passage- 
so eager and impetuous that it left the writer no time 
to tell what he was thankful for — is explained here. 
Titus, whom he had expected to see in Troas, arrived 
at length, probably at Philippi, and brought with him 
the most cheering news. Paul was sadly in need oi 
it His flesh had no rest : the use of the perfect 
(ea-^Kev) almost conveys the feeling that he began to 
write whenever he got the news, so that up to this 


moment the strain had continued. The fights without 
were probably assaults upon himself, or the Churches, 
of the nature of persecution ; the fears within, his 
anxieties about the state of morals, or of Gospel truth, 
in the Christian communities. Outworn and depressed, 
burdened both in body and mind (cf. the expressions 
in ii. 13 and vii. 5), he was suddenly lifted on high 
by the arrival and the news of Titus. Here again, as 
in ii. 14.J he ascribes all to God. It was He whose very 
nature it is to comfort the lowly who so graciously 
comforted him. Titus apparently had gone himself 
with a sad and apprehensive heart to Corinth ; he had 
been away longer than he had anticipated, and in the 
interval St. Paul's anxiety had risen to anguish; but in 
Corinth his reception had been unexpectedly favourable, 
and when he returned he was able to console his 
master with a consolation which had already gladdened 
his own heart. Paul was not only comforted, his 
sorrow was turned into joy, as he listened to Titus 
telling of the longing of the Corinthians to see him, 
of their mourning over the pain they had given him 
by their tolerance for such irregularities as that of the 
incestuous man or the unknown insulter of the Apostle, 
and of their eagerness to satisfy him and maintain his 
authority. The word " your " (ypwv) in ver. 7 has a 
certain emphasis which suggests a contrast. Before 
Titus went to Corinth, it was Paul who had been 
anxious to see them, who had mourned over their 
immoral laxity, who had been passionately interested 
in vindicating the character of the Church he had 
founded ; now it is they who are full of longing to 
see kirn, of grief, and of moral earnestness ; and it is 
this which explains his joy. The conflict between the 
powers of good in one great and passionate soul, and 

vii.2-i6.] REPENTANCE UNTO LIFE 253 

the powers of evil in a lax and fickle community, has 
ended in favour of the good ; Paul's vehemence has 
prevailed against Corinthian indifference, and made it 
vehement also in all good affections, and he rejoices 
now in the joy of his Lord. 

Then comes the most delicate part of this recon- 
ciliation (w. 8-12). It is a good rule in making up 
disputes to let bygones be bygones, as far as possible ; 
there may be a little spark hidden here and there under 
what seem dead ashes, and there is no gain in raking 
up the ashes, and giving the spark a chance to blaze 
again. But this is a good rule only because we are 
bad men, and because reconciliation is seldom allowed 
to have its perfect work. We feel, and say, after we 
have quarrelled with a person and been reconciled, that 
it can never be the same again. But this ought not 
to be so ; and if we were perfect in love, or ardent in 
love at all, it would not be so. If we were in one 
another's hearts, to die together and to live together, 
we should retrace the past together in the very act of 
being reconciled ; and all its misunderstandings and 
bitterness and badness, instead of lying hidden in us 
as matter of recrimination for some other day when we 
are tempted, would add to the sincerity, the tenderness, 
and the spirituality of our love. The Apostle sets us 
an example here, of the rarest and most difficult virtue, 
when he goes back upon the story of his relations with 
the Corinthians, and makes the bitter stock yield sweet 
and wholesome fruit. 1 

1 It is difficult to fix either the text or the punctuation in ver. 8, 
and agreement among critics is quite hopeless. Practically they are 
at one in omitting the yap of the Received Text after p\4irw : and 
Bchmiedel agrees with Lachmann and Westcott and Hort that the 


The whole result is in his mind when he writes, 
" Although I made you sorry with the letter, I do not 
regret it." The letter is, on the simplest hypothesis, 
the First Epistle ; and though no one would willingly 
speak to his friends as Paul in some parts of that 
Epistle speaks to the Corinthians, he cannot pretend 
that he wishes it unwritten. " Although I did regref 
it," he goes on, " now I rejoice." He regretted it, wv 
must understand, before Titus came back from Corinth 
In that melancholy interval, all he saw was that tht 
letter made them sorry ; it was bound to do so, eveii 
if it should only be temporarily ; but his heart smok 
him for making them sorry at all. It vexed him to 
vex them. No doubt this is the plain truth he is 
telling them, and it is hard to see why it should haver 
been regarded as inconsistent with his apostolic inspira- 
tion. He did not cease to have a living soul because 
he was inspired ; and if in his despondency it crossed 
his mind to say, " That letter will only grieve them," 
he must have said in the same instant, " I wish I had 
never written it." But both impulses were momentary 
only ; he has heard now the whole effect of his letter, 
and rejoices that he wrote it. Not, of course, that the}' 
were made sorry — no one could rejoice for that — but 
that they were made sorry to repentance. " For ye 
were made sorry according to God, that in nothing ye 
might suffer loss on our part. For sorrow according 
to God worketh repentance unto salvation, a repentance 

original reading was probably pXiirtov. The R.V. has the same 
punctuation as the A.V., whic^ probably means that the Revisers 
could not get a sufficient majority to change it, not that it is quite 
satisfactory as it stands. It cei tainly seems better to connect tl xoi 
^,£T€/u.eX6fnj>' with what follows (yvv X o '7 M "0 tnan with what precedes J 
but the sense is not affected. 


which bringeth no regret. But the sorrow of the world 
worketh death." 

Most people define repentance as a kind of sorrow, 
but this is not exactly St. Paul's view here. There 
is a kind of sorrow, he intimates, which issues in 
repentance, but repentance itself is not so much an 
emotional as a spiritual change. The sorrow which 
ends in it is a blessed experience ; the sorrow which 
does not end in it is the most tragical waste of which 
human nature is capable. The Corinthians, we are 
told, were made sorry, or grieved, according to God. 
Their sorrow had respect to Him : when the Apostle's 
letter pricked their hearts, they became conscious of 
that which they had forgotten — God's relation to them, 
and His judgment on their conduct. It is this element 
which makes any sorrow " godly," and without this, 
sorrow does not look towards repentance at all. All 
sins sooner or later bring the sense of loss with them ; 
but the sense of loss is not repentance. It is not 
repentance when we discover that our sin has found 
us out, and has put the things we most coveted beyond 
our reach. It is not repentance when the man who 
has sown his wild oats is compelled in bitterness of 
soul to reap what he has sown. It is not a sorrow 
according to God when cur sin is summed up for 
us in the pain it inflicts upon ourselves — in our own 
loss, our own defeat, our own humiliation, our own 
exposure, our own unavailing regret. These are not 
healing, but embittering. The sorrow according to God 
is that in which the sinner is conscious of his sin in 
relation to the Holy One, and feels that its inmost 
soul of pain and guilt is this, that he has fallen away 
from the grace and friendship of God. He has 
wounded a love to which he is dearer than he is to 


himself: to know this is really to grieve, and that 
not with a self-consuming, but with a healing, hope- 
ful sorrow. It was such a sorrow to which Paul's 
letter gave rise at Corinth : it is such a sorrow which 
issues in repentance, that complete change of spiritual 
attitude which ends in salvation, and need never be 
regretted. Anything else — the sorrow, e.g., which is 
bounded by the selfish interests of the sinner, and is 
not due to his sinful act, but only to its painful conse- 
quences — is the sorrow of the world. It is such as 
men feel in that realm of life in which no account 
is taken of God ; it is such as weakens and breaks 
the spirit, or embitters and hardens it, turning it now 
to defiance and now to despair, but never to God, 
and penitent hope in Him. It is in this way that 
it works death. If death is to be defined at all, it 
must be by contrast with salvation : the grief which 
has not God as its rule can only exhaust the soul, 
wither up its faculties, blight its hopes, extinguish and 
deaden all. 

St. Paul can point to the experience of the Corin- 
thians themselves as furnishing a demonstration of 
these truths. " Consider your own godly sorrow," he 
seems to say, " and what blessed fruits it bore. What 
earnest care it wrought in you 1 how eager became 
your interest in a situation to which you had once 
been sinfully indifferent ! " But " earnest care " is not 
all. On the contrary (aWa), Paul expands it into a 
whole series of acts or dispositions, all of which are 
inspired by that sorrow according to God. When they 
thought of the infamy which sin had brought upon the 
Church, they were eager to clear themselves of com- 
plicity in it (airokcryLav), and angry with themselves 
that they had ever allowed such a thing to be 

vii.2-i6.] REPENTANCE UNTO LIFE 257 

(ayavaKTrjaiv) ; when they thought of the Apostle, 
they feared lest he should come to them with a rod 
((froftov), and yet their hearts went out in longing 
desires to see him (eirkiroO^atv) ; when they thought 
of the man whose sin was at the bottom of all this 
trouble, they were full of moral earnestness, which 
made lax dealing with him impossible {^rfkov), and 
compelled them to punish his offence (iK$ixr)aiv). In 
every way they made it evident that, in spite of early 
appearances, they were really pure in the matter. 
They were not, after all, making themselves partakers, 
by condoning it, of the bad man's offence. 

A popular criticism disparages repentance, and especi- 
ally the sorrow which leads to repentance, as a mere 
waste of moral force. We have nothing to throw away, 
the severely practical moralist tells us, in sighs and 
tears and feelings : let us be up and doing, to rectify 
the wrongs for which we are responsible ; that is the 
only repentance which is worth the name. This passage, 
and the experience which it depicts, are the answer to 
such precipitate criticism. The descent into our own 
hearts, the painful self-scrutiny and self-condemnation, 
the sorrowing according to God, are not waste of moral 
force. Rather are they the only possible way to 
accumulate moral force ; they apply to the soul the 
pressure under which it manifests those potent virtues 
which St. Paul here ascribes to the Corinthians. All 
sorrow, indeed, as he is careful to tell us, is not repent- 
ance; but he who has no sorrow for his sin has not 
the force in him to produce earnest care, fear, longing, 
zeal, avenging. The fruit, of course, is that for which 
the tree is cultivated ; but who would magnify the fruit 
by disparaging the sap? That is what they do who 
decry " godly sorrow " to exalt practical amendment. 


With this reference to the effect of his letter upon 
them, the Apostle virtually completes his reconciliation 
to the Corinthians. He chooses to consider the effect 
of his letter as the purpose for which it was written, 
and this enables him to dismiss what had been a very 
painful subject with a turn as felicitous as it is affection- 
ate. " So then, though I did write to you, it was not 
for his sake who did the wrong [the sinner of I Cor. 
v.], nor for his who had it done to him [his father] 1 ; 
but that you yourselves might become conscious of 
your earnest care of our interests in the sight of God." 
Awkward as some of the situations had been, all that 
remained, so far as the Apostle and the Corinthians 
were concerned, was this : they knew better than 
before how deeply they were attached to him, and how 
much they would do for his sake. He chooses, as I 
have said, to regard this last result of his writing as 
the purpose for which he wrote ; and when he ends the 
twelfth verse with the words, " For this cause, we have 
been comforted," 2 it is as if he said, "I have got what 
I wanted now, and am content." 

But content is far too weak a word. Paul had heard 
all this good news from Titus, and the comfort which 
it gave him was exalted into abounding joy when he 
saw how the visit to Corinth had gladdened and 
refreshed the spirit of his friend. Evidently Titus 
had accepted Paul's commission with misgivings : pos- 
sibly Timothy, who had been earlier enlisted for the 
same service (i Cor. xvi. io), had found his courage 

1 But see on chap. ii. 5-1 1. 

1 This is the true text. Instead of M rjj irapaK\^<rei in ver. 13 all 
critical editions read M Si t-q it., and make these words begin a 
lievv paragraph. 

vii.2-16.] REPENTANCE UNTO LIFE 259 

fail him, and withdrawn. At all events, Paul had 
spoken encouragingly to Titus of the Corinthians before 
he started ; as he puts it in ver. 14, he had boasted 
somewhat to him on their account ; and he is delighted 
that their reception of Titus has shown that his confi- 
dence was justified. He cannot refrain here from a 
passing allusion to the charges of prevarication discussed 
in the first chapter ; he not only tells the truth about 
them (as Titus has seen), but he has always told the 
truth to them. These verses present the character of 
Paul in an admirable light : not only his sympathy 
with Titus, but his attitude to the Corinthians, is 
beautifully Christian. What in most cases of estrange- 
ment makes reconciliation hard is that the estranged 
have allowed themselves to speak of each other to 
outsiders in a way that cannot be forgotten or got over. 
But even when the tension between Paul and the 
Corinthians was at its height, he boasted of them to 
Titus. His love to them was so real that nothing 
could blind him to their good qualities. He could say 
severe things to them, but he would never disparage 
or malign them to other people ; and if we wish friend- 
ships to last, and to stand the strains to which all 
human ties are occasionally subject, we must never 
forget this rule. " Boast somewhat," even of the man 
who has wronged you, if you possibly can. If you 
have ever loved him, you certainly can, and it makes 
reconciliation easy. 

The last results of the painful friction between Paul 
and the Corinthians were peculiarly happy. The 
Apostle's confidence in them was completely restored, 
and they had completely won the heart of Titus. " His 
affections are more abundantly toward you, as he 
remembers the obedience of you all, how with fear and 


trembling ye received him." " Fear and trembling " is 
an expression which St. Paul uses elsewhere, and 
which is liable to be misunderstood. It does not sug- 
gest panic, but an anxious scrupulous desire not to 
be wanting to one's duty, or to do less than one ought 
to do. " Work out your salvation with fear and 
trembling, for it is God that worketh in you," does not 
mean " Do it in a constant state of agitation or alarm," 
but " Work on with this resource behind you, in the 
same spirit with which a young man of character would 
work, who was starting in business on capital advanced 
by a friend." He would proceed, or ought to proceed, 
with fear and trembling, not of the sort which paralyse 
intelligence and energy, but of the sort which per- 
emptorily preclude slackness or failure in duty. This 
is the meaning here also. The Corinthians were not 
frightened for Paul's deputy, but they welcomed him 
with an anxious conscientious desire to do the very 
utmost that duty and love could require. This, says 
Calvin, is the true wa)' to receive ministers of Christ : 
and it is this only which will gladden a true minister's 
heart. Sometimes, with the most innocent intention, 
the whole situation is changed, and the minister, 
though received with the utmost courtesy and kindness, 
is not received with fear and trembling at all. Partly 
through his own fault, and partly through the fault 
of others, he ceases to be the representative of any- 
thing that inspires reverence, or excites to conscientious 
earnestness of conduct. If, under these circumstances, 
he continues to be kindly treated, he is apt to end in 
being, not the pastor, but the pet lamb of his flock. In 
apostolic times there was no danger of this, but modern 
ministers and modern congregations have sometimes 
thrown away all the possibilities of good in their 

vii.2-16.] REPENTANCE UNTO LIFE 261 

mutual relations by disregarding it. The affection 
which they ought to have to each other is Christian, 
not merely natural ; controlled by spiritual ideas and 
purposes, and not a matter of ordinary good feeling; 
and where this is forgotten, all is lost. 



" Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace <*f God 
which hath been given in the Churches of Macedonia ; how that in 
much proof of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep 
poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. For according 
to their power, I bear witness, yea and beyond their power, they gave 
of their own accord, beseeching us with much intreaty in regard of 
this grace and the fellowship in the ministering to the saints: and 
this, not as we had hoped, but first they gave their own selves to the 
Lord, and to us by the will of God. Insomuch that we exhorted 
Titus, that as he had made a beginning before, so he would also com- 
plete in you this grace also. But as ye abound in everything, in faith, 
and utterance, and knowledge, and in all earnestness, and in your 
love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also. I speak not by the 
way of commandment, but as proving through the earnestness of others 
the sincerity also of your love. For ye know the grace of our Lord 
Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became 
poor, that ye through His poverty might become rich. And herein 
I give my judgment : for this is expedient for you, who were the first 
to make a beginning a year ago, not only to do, but also to will. But 
now complete the doing also ; that as there was the readiness to will, 
so there may be the completion also out of your ability. For if the 
readiness is there, it is acceptable according as a man hath, not 
according as he hath not. For / say not this, that others may be 
eased, and ye distressed : but by equality ; your abundance being a 
supply at this present time for their want, that their abundance also 
may become a supply for your want ; that there may be equality : as 
it is written, He that gathered much had nothing over ; and he that 
gathered little had no lack." — 2 Cor. viii. I-15 (R.V.). 

WITH the eighth chapter begins the second of the 
three great divisions of this Epistle. It is con- 
cerned exclusively with the collection which the Apostle 


viii. 1-15.] THE GRACE OF LIBERALITY 263 

was raising in all the Gentile Christian communities 
for the poor of the Mother Church at Jerusalem. This 
collection had great importance in his eyes, for various 
reasons : it was the fulfilment of his undertaking, to the 
original Apostles, to remember the poor (Gal. ii. 10) ; 
and it was a testimony to the saints in Palestine of the 
love of the Gentile brethren in Christ. The fact that 
Paul interested himself so much in this collection, 
destined as it was for Jerusalem, proves that he distin- 
guished broadly between the primitive Church and its 
authorities on the one hand, and the Jewish emissaries 
whom he treats so unsparingly in chaps, x. and xi. on 
the other. 

Money is usually a delicate topic to handle in the 
Church, and we may count ourselves happy in having 
two chapters from the pen of St. Paul in which he 
treats at large of a collection. We see the mind of 
Christ applied in them to a subject which is always 
with us, and sometimes embarrassing ; and if there 
are traces here and there that embarrassment was felt 
even by the Apostle, they only show more clearly 
the wonderful wealth of thought and feeling which he 
could bring to bear on an ungrateful theme. Consider 
only the variety of lights in which he puts it, and all of 
them ideal. " Money," as such, has no character, and 
so he never mentions it. But he calls the thing which 
he wants a grace (%ap?), a service (Ziaicovia), a com- 
munion in service (koivwvLcl), a munificence (aSpoTijs;), 
a blessing (evXoyia), a manifestation of love. The 
whole resources of Christian imagination are spent in 
transfiguring, and lifting into a spiritual atmosphere, 
a subject on which even Christian men are apt to 
be materialistic. We do not need to be hypocritical 
when we speak about money in the Church ; but 


both the charity and the business of the Church 
must be transacted as Christian, and not as secular, 

Paul introduces the new topic with his usual felicity. 
He has got through some rough water in the first seven 
chapters, but ends with expressions of joy and satisfac- 
tion. When he goes on in the eighth chapter, it is in 
the same cheerful key. It is as though he said to the 
Corinthians: "You have made me very happy, and 
now 1 must tell you what a happy experience I have 
had in Macedonia. The grace of God has been 
poured out on the Churches, and they have given 
with incredible liberality to the collection for the 
Jewish poor. It so moved me that I begged Titus, 
who had already made some arrangements in con- 
nexion with this matter among you, to return and 
complete the work." 

Speaking broadly, the Apostle invites the Corinthians 
to look at the subject through three media : (1) the 
example of the Macedonians ; (2) the example of the 
Lord ; and (3) the laws by which God estimates 

(1) The liberality of the Macedonians is described as 
" the grace of God given in the Churches." This is the 
aspect of it which conditions every other ; it is not the 
native growth of the soul, but a divine gift for which 
God is to be thanked. Praise Him when hearts are 
opened, and generosity shown ; for it is His work. 
In Macedonia this grace was set off by the circum- 
stances of the people. Their Christian character was 
put to the severe proof of a great affliction (see 1 Thess. 
ii. 14 f.).; they were themselves in deep poverty ; but 
their joy abounded nevertheless (1 Thess. i. 6), and 
joy and poverty together poured out a rich stream of 

viii. 1-15.] THE GRACE OF LIBERALITY 265 

liberality. 1 This may sound paradoxical, but paradox 
is normal here. Strange to say, it is not those to 
whom the Gospel comes easily, and on whom it imposes 
little, who are most generous in its cause. On the con- 
trary, it is those who have suffered for it, those who 
have lost by it, who are as a rule most open-handed. 
Comfort makes men selfish, even though they are 
Christian ; but if they are Christian, affliction, even 
to the spoiling of their goods, teaches them generosity. 
The first generation of Methodists in England — the 
men who in 1843 fought the good fight of the faith in 
Scotland — illustrate this law ; in much proof of afflic- 
tion, it might be said of them also, the abundance of 
their joy, and their deep poverty, abounded unto the 
riches of their liberality. Paul was almost embarrassed 
with the liberality of the Macedonians. When he 
looked at their poverty, he did not hope for much 
(ver. 5). He would not have felt justified in urging 
people who were themselves in such distress to do 
much for the relief of others. But they did not need 
urging : it was the}' who urged him. The Apostle's 
sentence breaks down as he tries to convey an adequate 
impression of their eagerness (ver. 4), and he has to 
leave off and begin again (ver. 5). To their power, he 
bears witness, yes and beyond their power, they gave 
of their own accord. They importuned him to bestow 
on them also the favour of sharing in this service to the 
saints. And when their request was granted, it was no 
paltry contribution that they made ; they gave them- 
selves to the Lord, to begin with, and to the Apostle, 

1 'AttXAtij? is literally simplicity or singleness of heart, the disposi- 
tion which, when it gives, does so without arriere-pensee: in point 
of fact this is identical with the liberal or generous disposition. Cf. 
chap. ix. 11, 13 ; Rom. xii. 8; James i. 5. 


as His agent in the transaction, by the will of God. 
The last words resume, in effect, those with which 
St. Paul introduced this topic : it was God's doing, the 
working of His will on their wills, that the Macedonians 
behaved as they did. I cannot think the English version 
is right in the rendering : " And this, not as we had 
hoped, but first they gave their own selves to the 
Lord." This inevitably suggests that afterwards they 
gave something else — viz., their subscriptions. But 
this is a false contrast, and gives the word " first " 
(irpwTov) a false emphasis, which it has not in the 
original. What St. Paul says is virtually this : " We 
expected little from people so poor, but by God's will 
they literally put themselves at the service of the Lord, 
in the first instance, and of us as His administrators. 
They said to us, to our amazement and joy, ' We are 
Christ's, and yours after Him, to command in this 
matter.' " This is one of the finest and most inspir- 
ing experiences that a Christian minister can have, and, 
God be thanked, it is none of the rarest. Many a 
man besides Paul has been startled and ashamed by 
the liberality of those from whom he would not have 
ventured to beg. Many a man has been importuned 
to take what he could not have dared to ask. It is a 
mistake to refuse such generosity, to decline it as too 
much ; it gladdens God, and revives the heart of man. 
It is a mistake to deprive the poorest of the opportunity 
of offering this sacrifice of praise ; it is the poorest in 
whcm it has most munifkence, and to whom^t brings 
the deepest joy. Rather ought we to open our hearts 
to the impression of it, as to the working of God'«* 
grace, and rouse our own selfishness to do something" 
not less worthy of Christ's love. 

This was the application which St. Paul made c/ t^e 

viii. 1-15.] THE GRACE OF LIBERALITY 267 

generosity of the Macedonians. Under the impression 
of it he exhorted Titus, who on a previous occasion l had 
made some preliminary arrangements about the matter 
in Corinth, to return thither and complete the work. 
He had other things also to complete, but " this grace " 
was to be specially included (jcal rr/v ")(a.piv ravTrjv). 
Perhaps one may see a ge»tle irony in the tone of 
ver. 7. " Enough of argument," the Apostle says : 8 " let 
Christians distinguished as you are in every respect — 
in faith and eloquence and knowledge and all sorts of 
zeal, and in the love that comes from you and abides 
in us — see that they are distinguished in this grace 
also." It is a real character that is suggested here by 
way of contrast, but not exactly a lovely one : the man 
who abounds in spiritual interests, who is fervent, 
prayerful, affectionate, able to speak in the Church, but 
unable to part with money. 

(2) This brings the Apostle to his second point, the 
example of the Lord. " I do not speak by way of com- 
mandment," he says, " in urging you to be liberal ; I am 
only taking occasion, through the earnestness of others, 
to put the sincerity of your love to the proof. If you 
truly love the brethren you will not grudge to help 
them in their distress. The Macedonians, of course, 
are no law for you; and though it was from them I 
started, I do not need to urge their example ; ' for ye 
know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though 
He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that 
ye through His poverty might become rich.' " This is 
the one pattern that stands for ever before the eyes of 

1 Previous to his recent visit? So Schmiede). Or simply = for- 
merly ? 

2 This, according to Hermann (quoted by Meyer), is often the force 
of dXXd, which is certainly a surprising word here. 


Christian men, the fountain of an inspiration as strong 
and pure to-day as when Paul wrote these words. 

Read simply, and by one who has the Christian 
creed in his mind, the words do not appear ambiguous. 
Christ was rich, they tell us ; He became poor for our 
sakes, and by His poverty we become rich. If a com- 
mentary is needed, it is surely to be sought in the 
parallel passage Phil. ii. 5 ff. The rich Christ is the 
pre-existent One, in the form of God, in the glory 
which He had with the Father before the world was ; 
He became poor when He became man. The poor 
men are those whose lot Christ came to share, and in 
consequence of that self-impoverishment of His they 
become heirs of a kingdom. It is not necessary, indeed 
it is utterly misleading, to ask curiously how Christ 
became poor, or what kind of experience it was for 
Him when He exchanged heaven for earth, and the 
form of God for the form of a servant. As Mr. Gore 
has well said, it is not the metaphysics of the Incarna- 
tion that St. Paul is concerned with, either here or in 
Philippians, but its ethics. We may never have a 
scientific key to it, but we have a moral key. If we 
do not comprehend its method, at least we comprehend 
its motive, and it is in its motive that the inspiration 
of it lies. We know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ ; 
and it comes home to our hearts when the Apostle 
says, " Let that mind — that moral temper — be in you 
which was also in Him." Ordinary charity is but the 
crumbs from the rich man's table ; but if we catch 
Christ's spirit, it will carry us far beyond that. He 
was rich, and gave up all for our sakes ; it is no less 
than poverty on His part which enriches us. 

The older theologians, especially of the Lutheran 
Church, read this great text differently, and their opinion 

viii. 1-15.] THE GRACE OF LIBERALITY 269 

is not }'et quite extinct. They referred iirTcoxevaev, 
not to Christ's entrance on the incarnate state, but to 
His existence in it ; 1 they puzzled themselves to con- 
ceive of Him as rich and poor at the same time ; and 
they quite took the point from St. Paul's exhortation by 
making eTTTdo^evaev irXovcnos a>v describe a combination, 
instead of an interchange, of states. It is a counsel 
of despair when a recent commentator (Heinrici), 
sympathising with this view, but yielding to the com- 
parison of Phil. ii. 5 ff., tries to unite the two interpre- 
tations, and to make eVTw^eyo-ev cover both the coming 
to earth from heaven and the life in poverty on earth. 
No word can mean two different things at the same 
time : and in this daring attempt we may fairly see a 
final surrender of the orthodox Lutheran interpretation. 
Some strange criticisms have been passed on this 
appeal to the Incarnation as a motive to liberality. It 
shows, Schmiedel says, Paul's contempt for the know- 
ledge of Christ after the flesh, when the Incarnation is 
all he can adduce as a pattern for such a simply human 
thing as a charitable gift. The same contempt, then, 
we must presume, is shown in Philippians, when the 
same great pattern is held up to inspire Christians with 
lowly thoughts of themselves, and with consideration 
for others. It is shown, perhaps, again at the close of 
that magnificent chapter — the fifteenth in First Corin- 
thians — where all the glory to be revealed when Christ 
transfigures His people is made a reason for the sober 
virtues of stedfastness and patience. The truth is 
rather that Paul knew from experience that the supreme 
motives are needed on the most ordinary occasions. 

1 Translating it, of course, "was poor," or "lived poor": which is 

not impossible in itself 


He never appeals to incidents, not because he does not 
know them, or because he despises them, but because 
it is far more potent and effectual to appeal to Christ. 
His mind gravitates to the Incarnation, or the Cross, 
or the Heavenly Throne, because the power and virtue 
of the Redeemer are concentrated there. The spirit 
that wrought redemption, and that changes men into 
the image of the Lord — the spirit without which no 
Christian disposition, not even the most "simply human," 
can be produced — is felt there, if one may say so, in 
gathered intensity ; and it is not the want of a concrete 
vision of Jesus such as Peter and John had, nor a 
scholastic insensibility to such living and love-compelling 
details as our first three Gospels furnish, that makes 
Paul have recourse thither; it is the instinct of the 
evangelist and pastor who knows that the hope of 
souls is to live in the presence of the very highest 
things. Of course Paul believed in the pre-existence 
and in the Incarnation. The writer quoted above does 
not, and naturally the appeal of the text is artificial 
and unimpressive to him. But may we not ask, in 
view of the simplicity, the unaffectedness, and the 
urgency with which St. Paul uses this appeal both 
here and in Philippians, whether his faith in the pre- 
existence can have had no more than the precarious 
speculative foundation which is given to it by so many 
who reconstruct his theology ? " Christ, the perfect 
reconciler, must be the perfect revealer of God ; God's 
purpose — that for which He made all things — must be 
seen in Him ; but that for which God made all things 
must have existed (in the mind of God) before all 
things; therefore Christ is (ideally) from everlasting." 
This is the substance of many explanations of how 
St. Paul came by his Christology ; but if this had been 

viii. 1-15.] THE GRACE OF LIBERALITY 271 

all, could St. Paul by any possibility have appealed 
thus naively to the Incarnation as a fact, and a fac 
which was one of the mainsprings of Christian morality ? 

(3) The Apostle pauses for a moment to urge his 
plea in the interest of the Corinthians themselves. He 
is not commanding, but giving his judgment: "this," he 
says, " is profitable for you, who began 1 a year ago, not 
only to do, but also to will. 2 But now complete the 
doing also." Every one knows this situation, and its 
evils. A good work which has been set on foot with 
interest and spontaneity enough, but which has begun 
to drag, and is in danger of coming to nothing, is very 
demoralising. It enfeebles the conscience, and spoils 
the temper. It develops irresolution and incapacity, 
and it stands perpetually in the way of anything else 
that has to be done. Many a bright idea stumbles 
over it, and can get no further. It is not only worldly 
wisdom, but divine wisdom, which says : " Whatso- 
ever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might." If 
it is the giving of money, the building of a church, the 
insuring of a life, complete the doing. To be always 
thinking about it, and always in an ineffective way 
busy about it, is not profitable for you. 

It is in this connexion that the Apostle lays down 
the laws of Christian liberality. In these verses (11 
to 15) there are three, (a) First, there must be readi- 
ness, or, as the Authorised Version puts it, a willing 
mind. What is given must be given freely; it must be a 
gracious offering, not a tax. This is fundamental. The 
law of the Old Testament is re-enacted in the New : "Of 
every man whose heart maketh htm willing shall ye 

1 The wpo in irpoevfip^aaBe seems to mean' " before the Macedonians." 
* The order of "do" and "will" is peculiar and has not been 
dearly explained. 


take the Lord's offering." What we spend in piety and 
charity is not tribute paid to a tyrant, but the response 
of gratitude to our Redeemer: and if it has not this 
character He does not want it. If there be first a 
willing mind, the rest is easy ; if not, there is no need 
to go on. (b) The second law is, " according as a man 
has." Readiness is the acceptable thing, not this or 
that proof of it. If we cannot give much, then a read)' 
mind makes even a little acceptable. Only let us 
remember this, that readiness always gives all that is 
in its power. The readiness of the poor widow in the 
Temple could only give two mites, but two mites were 
all her living ; the readiness of the Macedonians was 
in the depths of poverty, but they gave themselves to 
the Lord. The widow's mites are an illustrious example 
of sacrifice, and this word of the Apostle contains a 
moving appeal for generosity; yet the two together 
have been profaned times innumerable to cloak the 
meanest selfishness, (c) The third law is reciprocity. 
Paul does not write that the Jews may be relieved 
and the Corinthians burdened, but on the principle of 
equality : at this crisis the superfluity of the Corinthians 
is to make up what is wanting to the Jews, and at 
some other the situation will be exactly reversed. 
Brotherhood cannot be one-sided ; it must be mutual, 
and in the interchange of services equality is the result. 
This, as the quotation hints, answers to God's design 
in regard to worldly goods, as that design is indicated 
in the story of the manna : He that gathered much had 
no more than his neighbours, and he that gathered little 
had no less. To be selfish is not an infallible way of 
getting more than your share ; you may cheat your 
neighbour by that policy, but you will not get the better 
of God. In all probability men are far more nearly on 

viii. 1-15.] THE GRACE OF LIBERALITY 373 

an equality, in respect of what their worldly possessions 
yield, than the rich in their pride, or the poor in their 
envious discontent, would readily believe ; but where 
inequality is patent and painful — a glaring violation of 
the divine intention here suggested — there is a call for 
charity to redress the balance. Those who give to the 
poor are co-operating with God, and the more a com- 
munity is Christianised, the more will that state be 
realised in which each has what he needs. 




" But thanks be to God, which putteth the same earnest care for 
you into the heart of Titus. For indeed he accepted our exhortation 
but being himself very earnest, he went forth unto you of his own 
accord. And we have sent together with him the brother whose 
praise in the Gospel is spread through all the Churches ; and not only 
so, but who was also appointed by the Churches to travel with us 
in the matter of this grace, which is ministered by us to the glory of 
the Lord, and to show our readiness : avoiding this, that any man 
should blame us in the matter of this bounty which is ministered by 
us : for we take thought for things honourable, not only in the sight 
of the Lord but also in the sight of men. And we have sent with 
them our brother, whom we have many times proved earnest in 
many things, but now much more earnest by reason of the great 
confidence which he hath in you. Whether any inquire about Titus, 
he is my partner, and my fellow-worker to you-ward ; or our 
brethren, they are the messengers of the Churches, they are the glory 
of Christ. Show ye therefore unto them in the face of the Churches 
the proof of your love, and of our glorying on your behalf. 

" For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for 
me to write to you : for I know your readiness, of which I glory on 
your behalf to them of Macedonia, that Achaia hath been prepared 
for a year past; and your zeal hath stirred up very many of them. 
But I have sent the brethren, that our glorying on your behalf may 
not be made void in this respect; that, even as I said, ye may be 
prepared : lest by any means, if there come with me any of Macedonia, 
and find you unprepared, we (that we say not, ye) should be put to 
shame in this confidence. I thought it necessary therefore to intreat 
the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up 
beforehand your afore-promised bounty, that the same might be ready, 
as a matter of bounty, and not of extortion. 

"But this I say, He that soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; 
and he that soweth bountifully shall reap also K antifully. Let each 


viii. 16-ix. 15.] THE FRUITS OF LIBERALITY 27$ 

man do according as he hath purposed in his heart ; not grudgingly, 
or of necessity : for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able lo 
make all grace abound unto you ; that ye, having always all sufficiency 
in everything, may abound unto every good work : as it is written, 

He hath scattered abroad, he hath given to the poor ; 

His righteousness abideth for ever. 
And He that supplieth seed to the sower and bread for food, shall 
supply and multiply your seed for sowing, and increase the fruits 
of your righteousness : ye being enriched in everything unto all 
liberality, which worketh through us thanksgiving to God. Fer the 
ministration cf this service not only filleth up the measure of the 
wants of the saints, but aboundeth also through many thanksgivings 
unto God ; seeing that through the proving of you by this ministra- 
tion they glorify God for the obedience of your confession unto the 
Gospel of Christ, and for the liberality of your contribution unto 
them and unto all ; while they themselves also, with supplication 
on your behalf, long after you by reason of the exceeding grace 
of God in you. Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift." — 
2 Cor. viii 16-ix. 15 (R.V.). 

THIS long passage has a good many difficulties of 
detail, for the grammarian and the textual critic. 
Where it seems necessary, these will be referred to in 
the notes ; but as the large meaning of the writer is 
hardly affected by them, they need not interrupt the 
course of exposition. It falls into three parts, which 
are clearly marked as such in the Revised Version : 
(1) Chap. viii. 16-24, commending to the Corinthians 
the three brethren who were to precede Paul and 
prepare the collection ; (2) Chap. ix. 1-5, appealing to 
the motives of emulation and shame to reinforce love 
in the matter; and (3) Chap. ix. 6-15, urging liberality ^ 
and enlarging on the blessed fruits it yields. The 
first of these divisions begins, and the last ends, with 
an exclamatory ascription of thanks to God. 

(1) Chap. viii. 16-24. Of the three men who acted 
as commissioners in this delicate undertaking, only 
one, Titus, is known to us by name. He had just 


returned from Corinth ; he knew all the critical points 
in the situation ; and no doubt the Apostle was glad 
to have such a man at the head of the little party. He 
was thankful to God that on the occasion of that 
previous visit the Corinthians had completely won the 
heart of Titus, and that his loyal fellow-worker needed 
no compulsion to return. He was leaving x Paul of his 
own accord, full of earnest care for his Achaian friends. 
Along with him went a second — the brother whose 
praise in the Gospel was through all the Churches. 
It is useless to ask who the brother was. A very 
early opinion, alluded to by Origen, and represented 
apparently in the traditional subscription to this Epistle, 
identified him with Luke. Probably the ground for 
this identification was the idea that his " praise in the 
Gospel " referred to Luke's work as an evangelist. 
But this cannot be : first, because Luke'.s Gospel cannot 
have been written so early; and, secondly, because 
" the Gospel " at this date does not mean a written 
thing at all. This man's praise in the Gospel must 
mean the credit he had acquired by his services to the 
Christian faith ; it might be by some bold confession, 
or by activity as an evangelist, or by notable hospitality 
to missionaries, or by such helpful ministries as the 
one he was now engaged in. The real point of interest 
for us in the expression is the glimpse it gives us of 
the unity of the Church, and the unimpeded circulation 
of one life through all its members. Its early divisions, 
theological and racial, have been sufficiently empha- 
sised; it is well worth while to observe the unity of 
the spirit. It was this, eventually, which gave the 

1 AiOaiperot l%rfK6ev: the aorists all through this passage are 
virtually epistolary — itfjkBtP—hR is going; <rweir4//.\f/a./ji.ei>=l am send- 
ing with him, 

viii. 16-ix. 15.] THE FRUITS OF LIBERALITY 277 

Church its power in the decline of the Empire. It was 
the only institution which extended over the area of 
civilisation with a common spirit, common sympa- 
thies, and a common standard of praise. It was 
a compliment to the Corinthians to include in this 
embassy one whose good name was honoured wherever 
men met in the name of Jesus. This brother was at 
the same time a deputy in a special sense. He had 
been elected by the Churches who were contributing 
to the collection, that he might accompany the Apostle 
when it was taken to Jerusalem. This, in itself, is 
natural enough, and it would not. call for comment but 
for the remark to which the Apostle proceeds — " avoid- 
ing this, that any man should blame us in the matter 
of this bounty which is ministered by us to the glory 
of the Lord, and to show our l readiness : for we take 
thought for things honourable, not only in the sight of 
the Lord, but also in the sight of men." 

There was evidently an unpleasant side to this 
transaction. Paul's interest in the collection, his 
enemies had plainly said (chap. xii. 17, 18), was not 
quite disinterested. He was capable of putting his 
own hand into the bag. What ought a Christian man 
to do in such a case ? We shall see in a later chapter 
how keenly Paul felt this unworthy imputation, and 
with what generous passion he resented it; but here 

Our (rinQv), not your (ifiQy'), is the true reading. The precise 
sense is doubtful. It may be as the R.V. gives it, though this com- 
pletely upsets the balance of the clauses irpbs -ri)v tov Kvptov 56%ar 
and teal TpoOv/itav ijfiuv. The meaning should rather be: "which is 
ministered by us, that the Lord may be glorified, and that we may be 
made of good heart " ; only Paul's spirits seem a small thing side by 
side with the Lord's glory. There is something to say for the con- 
jecture that the /cot before TrpoOvfilav should be /card, even though this 
could only be connected with x«/9or<w7)0e£s : "elected as we ea;n.stly 


he betrays no indignation ; he joins with the Churches 
who are making the collection in so ordering matters 
as to preclude suspicion. Wherever the money is con- 
cerned, his responsibility is to be shared with another. 
It is a pity that Christ should not be glorified, and the 
Apostle's zeal to help the poor saints made known, 
without the accompaniment of these base suspicions 
and precautionary measures; but in all things human, 
evil will mingle with good, and the humble course is 
best, which does not only what God knows to be 
honourable, but what men must see to be so too. In 
handling money especially, it is best to err on the safe 
side. If most men are too readily suspected by others, 
it only answers to the fact that most men are too ready 
to trust themselves. We have an infinite faith in our 
own honesty ; and when auditors are appointed to 
examine their books, the inexperienced are apt to 
think it needless, and even impertinent. If they were 
wise, they would welcome it as a protection against 
suspicion and even against themselves. Many a man 
has ruined himself — not to speak of those who trusted 
him — by too blind a belief in his own integrity. The 
third brother who accompanied Titus seems to have 
been more closely associated with Paul than the second. 
He had proved him often, in many things, and found 
him uniformly earnest; and at this juncture the con- 
fidence he had in the Corinthians made him more 
earnest than ever. Paul extols the three in the highest 
terms before he sends them off; if anybody in Corinth 
wishes to know what they are, he is proud to tell. 
Titus is his partner in the apostolic calling, and has 
shared his work among them ; the other brethren are 
deputies (apostles) of Churches, a glory of Christ. 
What an idealist Paul was ! What an appreciation of 

•rtii. 16-ix. 15.] THE FRUITS OF LIBERALITY «79 

Christian character he had when he described these 
nameless believers as reflections of the splendour of 
Christ 1 To common eyes they might be commonplace 
men ; but when Paul looked at them he saw the dawning 
of that brightness in which the Lord appeared to him 
by the way. Contact with the grimy side of human 
nature did not blind him to this radiance ; rather did 
this glory of Christ in men's souls strengthen him to 
believe all things, to hope all things, to endure all 
things. In showing before these honoured messengers 
the proof of their love, and of his boasting on their 
behalf, the Corinthians will show it, 1 he says, before 
the face of the Churches. It will be officially reported 
throughout Christendom. 

(2) Chap. ix. 1-5. This section strikes one at first 
as greatly wanting in connexion with what precedes. 
It looks like a new beginning, an independent writing 
on the same or a similar subject. This has led some 
scholars to argue that either chap. viii. or chap. ix. be- 
longs to a different occasion, and that only resemblance 
in subject has led to one of them being erroneously 
inserted here beside the other. This, in the absence 
of any external indication, is an extremely violent 
supposition ; and closer examination goes to dissipate 
that first impression. The statements, e.g., in vv. 3-5 
would be quite unintelligible if we had not chap. viii. 
16-24 to explain them ; and instead of saying there 

1 The T.R. has hiSeigaoOe here, and so Westcott and Hort read 
in text, with tf, C, D**, etc. Most editors read with B, D*, E, F, G, etc. 
h>8eiKv6nevot. The imperative certainly seems to be a change made 
to facilitate the construction. Reading the participle, we must supply 
iv8ei£e<r0e, and put a comma after tvSeiKvifievoi : "in showing it to them, 
[you will show it] before the Churches." This is the same kind of 
ellipsis as in ver. 23. 


is no connexion between ix. I and what precedes, we 
should rather say that the connexion is somewhat 
involved and circuitous — as will happen when one is 
handling a topic of unusual difficulty. It is to be 
explained thus. The Apostle feels that he has said a 
good deal now about the collection, and that there is 
a danger in being too urgent. He uses what he has 
just said about the reception of the brethren as a 
stepping-stone to another view of the subject, more 
flattering to the Corinthians, to begin with, and less 
importunate. " Maintain your character before them," 
he says in effect ; " for as for the ministering to the 
saints, it is superfluous for me to be writing to you 
as I do." 1 Instead of finding it necessary to urge 
their duty upon them, he has been able to hold up 
their readiness as an example to the Macedonians. 
" Achaia has been prepared for a year past," he said 
to his fond disciples in Thessalonica and Philippi ; and 
the zeal of the Achaians, or rivalry of them, roused 
the majority of the Macedonians. This is one way of 
looking at what happened ; another, and surely Paul 
would have been the first to say a more profound, is 
that of chap. viii. I — the grace of God was given in 
the Churches of Macedonia. But the grace of God 
takes occasions, and uses means ; and here its oppor- 
tunity and its instrument for working in Macedonia 
was the ready generosity of the Corinthians. It has 
wrought, indeed, so effectively that the tables are 
turned, and now it is the liberality of Macedonia which 
is to provoke Corinth. Paul is sending on these 
brethren beforehand, lest, if any of the Macedonians 
should accompany him when he starts for Corinth 

1 This is the force of rb ypAtpav. 

viii. 16-U. 15.3 THE FRUITS OF LIBERALITY 281 

himself, the}' should find matters not so flourishing 
as he had led them to believe. " That would put me to 
shame," he says to the Corinthians, " not to speak of 
you. I have been very confident in speaking of you as 
I have done in Macedonia : do keep up my credit and 
your own. Let this blessing, which you are going to 
bestow on the poor, be ready as a blessing — i.e., as 
something which one gives willingly, and as liberally 
as he can ; and not as a matter of avarice, 1 in which 
one gives reluctantly, keeping as much as he can." 

The legitimacy of such motives as are appealed to 
in this paragraph will always be more or less questioned 
among Christian men, but as long as human nature is 
what it is they will always be appealed to. ZrjkbrvKov 
yap to twp dvdpcoiroov yevos (Chrys.). A great man 
of action like St. Paul will of course find his tempta- 
tions along this line. He is so eager to get men to act,' 
and the inertness of human nature is so great, that 
it is hard to decline anything which will set it in 
motion. It is not the highest motive, certainly, when 
the forwardness of one stimulates another ; but in a 
good cause, it is better than none. A good cause, 
too, has a wonderful power of its own when men 
begin to attend to it; it asserts itself, and takes 
possession of souls on its own account. Rivalry be- 
comes generous then, even if it remains ; it is a race 
in love that is being run, and all who run obtain the 
prize. Competitions for prizes which only one can 
gain have a great deal in them that is selfish and 
bad ; but rivalry in the service of others — rivalry in 

The R.V. renders irXeove^la " extortion " — the xKeovhrat being 
those who get the money ; but it seems to me more natural to render 
"avarice," in which case both tiXaryta. and ir\eove£ia apply to the 


unselfishness — will not easily degenerate in this direc- 
tion. Paul does not need to be excused because he 
stimulates the Macedonians by the promptitude of the 
Corinthians— though he had his misgivings about this 
last— and the Corinthians by the liberality of the 
Macedonians. The real motive in both cases was " the 
grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, though He was 
rich, yet for our sakes became poor." It is this which 
underlies everything in the Christian heart, and nothing 
can do harm which works as its auxiliary. 

(3) Chap. ix. 6-15. In the third and last section 
the Apostle resumes his direct and urgent tone. " I do 
not need to write to you," he seems to say, " but 
one thing I cannot but set down : He that soweth 
sparingly shall reap also sparingly ; and he that 
soweth bountifully x shall reap also bountifully." That 
is the law of God, and the nature of things, whether 
men regard or disregard it. Charity is in a real sense 
an investment, not a casting away of money ; it is not 
fruitless, but bears fruit in the measure in which it is 
sown. Of course it cannot be enforced — that would 
be to deny its very nature. Each is to give what 
he has purposed in his heart, where he is free and 
true : he is not to give out of grief, mourning over 
what he gives and regretting be could not keep it ; 
neither is he to give out of necessity, because his 
position, or the usages of his society, or the comments 
of his neighbours, put a practical compulsion upon 
him. God loves a cheerful giver. Money is nothing 
to Him but as an index to the soul ; unless the soul 
gives it, and gives itself with it, He takes no account. 

1 'Ew' edXoylmt : " so that blessings are associated therewith " 
{Winer) : the full hand in sowing makes a full hand in reaping. 

viii. 16-ix. 15.] THE FRUITS OF LIBERALITY 283 

But He does take account of true charity, and because 
He does, the charitable may be of good cheer : He will 
not allow them to be without the means of manifesting 
a spirit so grateful to Him. If we really wish to be 
generous, He will not withhold from us the power 
of being so. This is what the Apostle says in ver. 8 : 
"God is able to make all grace abound toward you, 
that ye, having always all sufficiency in everything, 
may abound unto every good work." There is, indeed, 
another way of rendering avrapxeia (sufficiency). Some 
take it subjectively, not objectively, and make it mean, 
not sufficiency, but contentment. But though a con- 
tented spirit disposes people wonderfully to be generous, 
and the discontented, who have never enough for them- 
selves, can never, of course, spare anything for 
anybody else, this meaning is decidedly to be rejected. 
The sufficiency, as ver. 10 also shows, is outward : we 
shall always, if we are charitable, have by God's grace 
the means of being more so. He is able to bless us 
abundantly, that we may be able for every good work. 
Observe the purpose of God's blessing. This is the 
import of the quotation from the 1 1 2th Psalm, in which 
we have the portrait of the good man : " He hath 
dispersed" — what uncalculating liberality there is in 
the very word — " he hath given to the poor : his 
righteousness abideth for ever." The approximation, in 
the Jewish morals of later times, of the ideas of right- 
eousness and almsgiving, has led some to limit 
BiKaioavvt] in this passage (as in Matt. vi. 1) to the 
latter sense. This is extremely improbable — I think 
impossible. In the Psalm, both in ver. 3 and ver. 10 
(LXX.), the expression " his righteousness abideth for 
ever" reflects God's verdict on the character as a 
whole. The character there described, and here re- 


ferred to by the relevant trait of generosity, is one 
which need fear no chances of the future. He who 
supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will 
supply and multiply the seed sown by the generous 
Corinthians (that they may ever be in a position to be 
generous), and will cause also the fruits of their right- 
eousness to grow. Their righteousness, as it figures 
in this last phrase, is of course represented, for the 
time being, by their generosity ; and the poetic ex- 
pression " fruits of righteousness," which is borrowed 
from Hosea, designates the results which that genero- 
sity produces. It is not only an investment which 
guarantees to them the generous care of God for their 
own welfare; it is a seed which bears another and 
more spiritual harvest. With some expansion of heart 
on this the Apostle concludes. 

(a) It yields a rich harvest of thanksgiving to God. 
This is expressed in ver. 12, and is the principal point. 
It is something to fill up further the measure of a 
brother's needs by a timely gift, but how much more 
it is to change the tune of his spirit, and whereas we 
found him cheerless or weak in faith, to leave him 
gratefully praising God. True thankfulness to the 
Heavenly Father is an atmosphere in which all virtues 
flourish : and those whose charity bears fruit in this 
grateful spirit are benefactors of mankind to an extent 
which no money can estimate. It is probably forcing 
the Apostle's language to insist that Xeirovpyla, as a 
name for the collection, has any priestly or sacrificial 
reference ; * but unfeigned charity is in its very nature 

1 Afirovpyla : for the general sense of "service," especially charit- 
able service, quite apart from priestly associations, see Phil. ii. 25, 
30 : and Grimm's Lexicon. 

viii. 16-ix. 15.] THE FRUITS OF LIBERALITY 285 

a sacrifice of praise to God — the answer of our love 
to His; and it has its best effect when it evokes 
the thanksgivings to God of those who receive it. 
Wherever love is, He must be first and last. 

(£) The charity of the Corinthians bore another 
spiritual fruit : in consequence of it the saints at Jeru- 
salem were won to recognise more unreservedly the 
Christian standing of the Gentile brethren. This is 
what we read in ver. 13. Taking occasion from the 
proof of what you are, which this ministration of yours 
has given them, they glorify God " for the obedience of 
your confession unto the Gospel of Christ, and for the 
liberality of your contribution unto them and unto all." 
The verbal combinations possible here give free scope 
to the ingenuity and the caprice of grammarians ; but 
the kind of thing meant remains plain. Once the 
Christians of Jerusalem had had their doubts about the 
Corinthians, and the other pagans who were said to 
have received the Gospel ; they had heard marvellous 
reports about them certainly, but it remained to be 
seen on what these reports rested. They would not 
commit themselves hastily to any compromising relation 
to such outsiders. Now all their doubts have been 
swept away; the Gentiles have actually come to the 
relief of their poverty, and there is no mistaking what 
that means. The language of love is intelligible every- 
where, and there is only One who teaches it in such 
relations as are involved here — Jesus Christ. Yes, 
once they had their doubts of you ; but now they will 
praise God that you have obediently confessed the 
Gospel, and frankly owned a fellowship with them and 
with all. The last words mean, in effect, that the 
Corinthians had liberally shared what they had with 
them and with all ; but the terms are so chosen as to 


obliterate, as far as possible, all but the highest associa- 
tions. This, then, is another fruit of charity : it widens 
the thoughts — it often improves the theology — of those 
who receive it. All goodness, men feel instinctively, 
is of God ; and they cannot condemn as godless, or even 
as beyond the covenant, those through whom goodness 
comes to them. 

(c) Finally, among the fruits of charity is to be 
reckoned the direct response of brotherly love, expressed 
especially in intercessory prayer, and in a longing to 
see those on whom God's grace rests so abundantly. 
An unknown and distant benefactor is sometimes better 
than one near at hand. He is regarded simply in his 
character as a benefactor; we know nothing of him 
that can possibly discount his kindness ; our mind is 
compelled to rest upon his virtues and remember them 
gratefully before God. One of the meanest experiences 
of human nature that we can have — and it is not an 
imaginary one — is to see people paying the debt of 
gratitude, or at least mitigating the sense of obligation, 
by thinking over the deficiencies in their benefactor's 
character. " He is better off than we are ; it is nothing 
to him ; and if he is kind to the poor, he has need to 
be. It will take a lot of charity to cover all he would 
like to hide." This revolting spirit is the extreme 
opposite of the intercessory prayer and brotherly 
yearning which St. Paul sees in his mind's eye among 
the saints at Jerusalem. Perhaps he saw almost more 
than was really to be seen. The union of hearts he 
aimed at was never more than imperfectly attained. 
But to have aimed at it was a great and generous 
action, and to have brought so many Gentile Churches 
to co-operate to this end was a magnificent service to 
the kingdom of God. 

vtti. 16-ix. 15.] THE FRUITS OF LIBERALITY 487 

These " fruits " are not as yet actually borne, but to 
the Apostle's loving anticipation they are as good as 
real. They are the fruits of " the righteousness " of 
the Corinthians, the harvest that God has caused to 
grow out of their liberality. From the very beginning 
there have been two opinions as to what St. Paul 
means by the exclamation with which he closes — 
" Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift." 
On the one hand, it is read as if it were a part of 
what precedes, the unspeakable gift of God being 
the numberless blessings that charity yields, by God's 
goodness, both to those who give and to those who 
receive it. Paul in this case would be thinking, 
when he wrote, of the joy with which the Gentiles 
gave, and of the gratitude, the willing recognition, 
and the brotherly prayers and longing, with which the 
Jews received, help in the hour of need. These 
would be the unspeakable gift. On the other hand, 
the sentence is read as if it stood apart, not the 
continuation of what immediately precedes, but the 
overflow of the Apostle's heart in view of the whole 
situation. It becomes possible, then, to regard " God's 
unspeakable gift " as the gift of redemption in His Son 
— the great, original, unsearchable gift, in which every- 
thing else is included, and especially all such manifes- 
tations of brotherly love as have just been in view. 
Sound feeling, I think, unequivocally supports the last 
interpretation. The very word " unspeakable " is one 
of a class that Paul reserves for this particular object ; 
the wisdom and love of God as displayed in man's 
salvation are unspeakable, unsearchable, passing know- 
ledge ; but nothing else is. It is to this his mind goes 
back, instinctively, as he contemplates what has flowed 
from it in the particular case before us ; but it is the 


great divine gift, and not its fruits in men's lives, how- 
ever rich and various, that it passes the power of words 
to characterise. It is for it, and not for its results in 
Jew or Gentile, that the Apostle so devoutly thanks 



"Now I Paul myself intreat you by the meekness and gentleness 
of Christ, I who in your presence am lowly among you, but being 
absent am of good courage toward you : yea, I beseech you, that 

1 may not when present show courage with the confidence where- 
with I count to be bold against some, which count of us as if we 
walked according to the flesh. For though we walk in the flesh, we 
do not war according to the flesh (for the weapons of our warfare are 
not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the casting down of strong 
holds) ; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that is 
exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought 
into captivity to the obedience of Christ ; and being in readiness to 
avenge all disobedience, when your obedience shall be fulfilled." — 

2 Cor. x. 1-6 (R.V.). 

THE last four chapters of the Second Epistle to 
the Corinthians stand as manifestly apart as the 
two about the collection. A great deal too much has 
been made of this undeniable fact. If a man has 
a long letter to write, in which he wishes to speak 
of a variety of subjects, we may expect variations of 
tone, and more or less looseness of connexion. If he 
has something on his mind which it is difficult to speak 
about, but which cannot be suppressed, we may expect 
him to keep it to the end, and to introduce it, perhaps, 
with awkward emphasis. The scholars who have 
argued, on the ground of the extreme difference of tone, 
and want of connexion, that chaps, x.-xiii. of this 
Epistle were originally a separate letter, either earlier 
(Weisse) or later (Semler) than the first seven chapters, 

289 19 


seem to have overlooked these obvious considerations. 1 
If Paul stopped dictating for the day at the end of 
chap. ix. — if he even stopped a few moments in doubt 
how to proceed to the critical subject he had still to 
handle — the want of connexion is sufficiently explained ; 
the tone in which he writes, when we consider the 
subject, needs no justification. The mission of Titus 
had resulted very satisfactorily, so far as one special 
incident was concerned — the treatment of a guilty person 
by the Church; the tension of feeling over that case 
had passed by. But in the general situation of affairs 
at Corinth there was much to make the Apostle anxious 
and angry. There were Judaists at work, impugning 
his authority and corrupting his Gospel ; there was at 
least a minority of the Church under their influence ; 
there were large numbers living, apparently, in the 
grossest sins (chap. xii. 20 f.) ; there was something, we 
cannot but think, approaching spiritual anarchy. The 
one resource the Apostle has with which to encounter 
this situation — his one standing ground alike against 
the Church and those who were corrupting it — is his 
apostolic authority ; and to the vindication of this he 
first addresses himself. This, I believe, explains the 
peculiar emphasis with which he begins : " Now I myself, 
I Paul intreat you." Avtos iya> IIav\o<; is not only 
the grammatical subject of the sentence, but if one may 
say so, the subject under consideration ; it is the very 
person whose authority is in dispute who puts himself 
forward deliberately in this authoritative way. The 8e 
(" now ") is merely transitional ; the writer moves on, 
without indicating any connexion, to another matter. 

1 On Hausrath's view that this was a letter between our Ep. I. 
and Ep. II. see the Introduction. 

x. 1-6.] WAR 291 

In the long sentence which makes up the first and 
second verses, everything comes out at once — the 
Apostle's indignation, in that extreme personal emphasis ; 
his restraint of it, in the appeal to the meekness and 
gentleness of Christ ; his resentment at the miscon- 
struction of his conduct by enemies, who called him a 
coward at hand, and a brave man only at a safe distance ; 
and his resolve, if the painful necessity is not spared 
him, to come with a rod and not spare. It is as if 
all this had been dammed up in his heart for long, 
and to say a single word was to say everything. The 
appeal to the meekness and gentleness of Christ is 
peculiarly affecting in such a connexion ; it is intended 
to move the Corinthians, but what we feel is how it 
has moved Paul. It may be needful, on occasion, 
to assert oneself, or at least one's authority ; but it 
is difficult to do it without sin. It is an exhilarating 
sensation to human nature to be in the right, and when 
we enjoy it we are apt to enlist our temper in the divine 
service, forgetting that the wrath of man does not worlc 
the righteousness of God. Paul felt this danger, and 
in the very sentence in which he puts himself and 
his dignity forward with uncompromising firmness, he 
recalls to his own and his readers' hearts the charac- 
teristic temper of the Lord. How far He was, under 
the most hateful provocation, from violence and passion ! 
How far from that sinful self-assertion, which cannot 
consider the case and claims of others I It is when 
we are in the right that we must watch our temper, 
and, instead of letting anger carry us away, make our 
appeal for the right by the meekness and gentleness 
of Jesus. This, when right is won, makes it twice 
blessed. The words, "who in your presence am 
lowly among you, but being absent am of good courage 


toward you," are one of the sneers current in Corinth 
at Paul's expense. When he was there, his enemies 
said, face to face with them, he was humble enough j 1 
it was only when he left them he became so brave. 
This mean slander must have stung the proud soul of 
the Apostle — the mere quotation of it shows this ; but 
the meekness and gentleness of Christ have entered 
into him, and instead of resenting it he continues in 
a still milder tone. He descends from urging or 
entreating (jrapaKa\a>) to beseeching (BeofMai). The 
thought of Christ has told already on his heart and 
on his pen. He begs them so to order their conduct 
that he may be spared the pain of demonstrating the 
falsehood of that charge. He counts on taking daring 
action against some at Corinth who count of him as 
though he walked after the flesh ; but they can make 
this face-to-face hardihood needless, and in the name, 
not of his own cowardice, but of his Lord's meekness 
and considerateness, he appeals to them to do so. 
Ava<j)rjiiovfievoL TrupaKaXovfj,ev- 

The charge of walking after the flesh is one that 
needs interpretation. In a general way it means that 
Paul was a worldly, and not a spiritual, man ; and 
that the key to his character and conduct — even in his 
relations with Churches — was to be sought in his private 
and personal interests. What this would mean in any 
particular case would depend upon the circumstances. 
It might mean that he was actuated by avarice, and, 
in spite of pretences to be disinterested, was ruled at 
bottom by the idea of what would pay; or it might 

1 This is the only place in the New Testament where Ta.irei.vbi 
(" lowly ") is used in a bad (contemptuous) sense : in Christian lips 
it is a term of praise (Matt. xi. 29) ; the speakers here had not learned 
its Christian meaning. 

1. 1-6.] WAR 293 

mean — and in this place probably does mean — that he 
had an undue regard for the opinion of others, and 
acted with feeble inconsistency in his efforts to please 
them. A man of whom either of these things could be 
truly said would be without spiritual authority, and 
it was to discredit the Apostle in the Church that the 
vague and damaging charge was made. 

He certainly shows no want of courage in meeting 
it. That he walks in the flesh, he cannot deny. He 
is a human being, wearing the weak nature, and all its 
maladies are incident to him. As far as that nature 
goes, it is as possible that he, as that any man, should 
be ruled by its love of ease or popularity; or, on tL- 
other hand, should be overcome by timidity, and shrink 
from difficult duties. But he denies that this is his 
case. He spends his life in this nature, with all its 
capacity for unworthy conduct ; but in his Christian 
warfare he is not ruled by it — he has conquered it, and 
it has no- power over him at all. " I was with you," he 
wrote in the First Epistle, " with weakness and fear and 
much trembling " ; but " my speech and my preaching 
were with demonstration of the Spirit and of 

power." This is practically what he says here, and 
what must be said by every man who undertakes to do 
anything for God. No one can be half so well aware 
as he, if he is sincere at all, of the immense contrast 
between the nature in which he lives and the service 
to which he is called. None of his enemies can know 
so well as he the utter earthenness of the vessel in 
■which the heavenly treasure is deposited. But the 
very meaning of a divine call is that a man is made 
master of this weakness, and through whatever pain 
and self-repression can disregard it for his work's sake. 
With some men timidity is the great trial : for them, 


it is the flesh. They are afraid to declare the whole 
counsel of God; or they are afraid of some class, or of 
some particular person : they are brave with a pen 
perhaps, or in a pulpit, or surrounded by sympathising 
spectators ; but it is not in them to be brave alone, and 
to find in the Spirit a courage and authority which 
overbear the weakness of the flesh. From all such 
timidity, as an influence affecting his apostolic work, 
Paul can pronounce himself free. Like Jeremiah (Jer. 
i. 6-8) and Ezekiel (Ezek. ii. 6-8), he is naturally capable, 
but spiritually incapable of it. He is full of might by 
the Spirit of the Lord : and when he takes the field in 
the Lord's service, the flesh is as though it were not. 
Since the expression iv a-ap/cl TrepnraTOvvTes refers to 
the whole of the Apostle's life, it seems natural to take 
<TTpa,Tev6fj,eda as referring to the whole of his ministry, 
and not solely to his present campaign against the 
Corinthians. It is of his apostolic labours in general — 
of course including that which lay immediately before 
him — that he says : " The weapons of our warfare are 
not of the flesh, but mighty before God x to the casting 
down of strong holds." 

Nobody but an evangelist could have written this 
sentence. Paul knew from experience that men fortify 
themselves against God : they try to find impregnable 
positions in which they may defy Him, and live their 
own life. Human nature, when God is announced to 
speak, instinctively puts itself on its guard ; and you 
cannot pass that guard, as Paul was well aware, with 
weapons furnished by the flesh. The weapons need to 
be divinely strong; mighty in God's sight, for God's 

1 The dative in Sward, tQ 0e$ is the same as in Jonah iii. 3, Acts 
vii. 20. A vague rendering like ' divinely powerful " is probably 
nearest the meaning. 

1. 1-6.] WAR «95 

I ■ . — ■.■■ I ■■■ I !■■ — - l-l — Mill — — — m . . 

service, with God's own might. There is an answer 
in this to many of the questions that are being asked 
at present about methods of evangelising; where the 
divinely powerful weapons are found, such questions 
give no trouble. No man who has ever had a direct 
and unmistakable blessing on his work as an evangelist 
has ever enlisted "the flesh" in God's service. No 
such man has ever seen, or said, that learning, 
eloquence, or art ir.. the preacher ; or bribes of any sort 
to the hearer; or approaches to the "strong holds," 
constructed of amusements, lectures, concerts, and so 
forth, were of the very slightest value. He who knows 
anything about the matter knows that it is a life-and- 
death interest which is at stake when the soul comes 
face to face with the claims and the mercy of God ; and 
that the preacher who has not the hardihood to repre- 
sent it as such will not be listened to, and should not 
be. Paul was armed with this tremendous sense of 
what the Gospel was — the immensity of grace in it, the 
awfulness of judgment; and it was this which gave him 
his power, and lifted him above the arts, the wisdom, 
and the timidity of the flesh. A man will hold his own 
against anything but this. He will parley with any 
weapon flesh can fashion or wield ; this is the only one 
to which he surrenders. 

Perhaps in the fifth verse, which is an expansion ot 
" the casting down of strong holds," a special reference 
to the Corinthians begins to be felt : at all events they 
might easily apply it to themselves. "Casting down 
imaginations," the Apostle says, "and every high thing 
that is exalted against the knowledge of God." "Ima- 
ginations " is probably a fair enough rendering of 
\oyKT/u,ov<i, though the margin has " reasonings," and 
the same word in Rom. ii. 1 5 is rendered " thoughts." 


To what it applies is not very obvious. Men do 
certainly fortify themselves against the Gospel in their 
thoughts. The proud wisdom of the Greek was 
familiar to the Apostle, and even the obvious fact that 
it had not brought the world salvation was not sufficient 
to lower its pride. The expression has sometimes 
been censured as justifying the sacrificium intellectus, 
or as taking away freedom of thought in religion. To 
think of Paul censuring the free exercise of intelligence 
in religion is too absurd ; but there is no doubt that, 
with his firm hold of the great facts on which the 
Christian faith depends, he would have dealt very 
summarily with theories, ancient or modern, which 
serve no purpose but to fortify men against the pressure 
of these facts. He would not have taken excessive 
pains to put himself in the speculator's place, and see 
the world as he sees it, with the most stupendous 
realities left out; he would not have flattered with 
any affected admiration that most self-complacent of 
mortals — the wise of this world. He would have 
struck straight at the heart and conscience with the 
spiritual weapons of the Gospel ; he would have spoken 
of sin and judgment, of reconciliation and life in Christ, 
till these great realities had asserted their greatness 
in the mind, and in doing so had shattered the 
proud intellectual structures which had been reared 
,n ignorance or contempt of them. "Thoughts" and 
•" imaginations " must yield to things, and make room 
for them : it was on this principle Paul wrought. And 
to " thoughts " or " imaginations " he adds " every 
high thing [y^jrwfia] that exalts itself against the 
knowledge of God." The emphasis is on " every " ; 
the Apostle generalises the opposition which he has to 
encounter. It may not be so much in the " thoughts " 

r. 1-6.] WAR 297 

of men, as in their tempers, that they fortify themselves. 
Pride, which by the instinct of self-preservation sees at 
once to the heart of the Gospel, and closes itself against 
it; which hates equally the thought of absolute indebted- 
ness to God and the thought of standing on the same 
level with others in God's sight, — this pride raises in 
every part of our nature its protest against the great 
surrender. It is implied in the whole structure of this 
passage that " the knowledge of God " against which 
every high thing in man rises defiantly is a humbling 
knowledge. In other words, it is not speculative 
merely, but has an ethical significance, which the 
human heart is conscious of even at a distance, and 
makes ready to acknowledge or to resist. No high 
thing lifts itself up in us against a mere theorem — a 
doctrine of God which is as a doctrine in algebra ; it is 
the practical import of knowing God which excites the 
rebellion of the soul. No doubt, for the Apostle, the 
knowledge of God was synonymous with the Gospel : 
it was the knowledge of His glory in the face of Jesus 
Christ; it was concentrated in the Cross and the Throne 
of His Son, in the Atonement and the Sovereignty 
of Christ. The Apostle had to beat down all the 
barriers by which men closed their minds against this 
supreme revelation ; he had to win for these stupendous 
facts a place in the consciousness of humanity answer- 
ing to their grandeur. Their greatness made him 
great : he was lifted up on them; and though he walked 
in the flesh, in weakness and fear and much trembling, 
he could confront undaunted the pride and the wisdom 
of the world, and compel them to acknowledge his 

This meaning is brought out more precisely in the 
words with which he continues — " bringing every 


thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ." If we 
suppose a special reference here to the Corinthians, it 
will be natural to take vorjfia (" thought") in a practical 
sense — as, e.g., in chap. ii. 1 1, where it is rendered 
"devices." The Corinthians had notions of their own, 
apparently, about how a Church should be regulated — 
wild, undisciplined, disorderly notions ; and in the 
absence of the Apostle they were experimenting with 
them freely. It is part of his work to catch these run- 
away thoughts, and make them obedient to Christ again. 
It seems, however, much more natural to allow the wider 
reference of al^aXmri^ovTe^ to the whole of Paul's 
apostolic work ; and then vorjfia also will be taken in 
a less restricted sense. Men's minds, and all that goes 
on in their minds (vor^iara covers both : see chaps, ii. 
11, iii. 14, iv. 4), are by nature lawless: they are 
without the sense of responsibility to guard and con- 
secrate the sense of freedom. When the Gospel makes 
them captive, this lawless liberty comes to an end. 
The mind, in all its operations, comes under law to 
Christ : in its every thought it is obedient to Him. 
The supremacy which Christ claims and exercises is 
over the whole nature : the Christian man feels that 
nothing — not even a thought — lies beyond the range in 
which obedience is due to Him. This practical con- 
viction will not paralyse thinking in the very least, but 
it will extinguish many useless and bad thoughts, and 
give their due value to all. 

The Apostle descends unmistakably from the general 
to the particular in ver. 6: "Being in readiness to 
avenge all disobedience, when your obedience is flu- 
filled." Apparently what he contemplates in Corinth 
is a disobedience which in part at least will refuse to 
surrender to Christ. There is a spirit abroad there 

z. 1-6.] WAR 299 

in the Judaists especially, and in those whom they 
have influenced, which will not bend, and must be 
broken. How Paul means to take vengeance on it, he 
does not say. He is confident himself that the divinely 
powerful weapons which he wields will enable him to 
master it, and that is enough. Whatever the shape 
the disobedience may assume, — hostility to the Gospel 
of Paul, as subversive of the law; hostility to his 
apostolic claims, as unequal to those of the Twelve; 
hostility to the practical authority he asserted in 
Churches of his founding, and to the moral ideals he 
established there, — whatever the face which opposition 
may present, he declares himself ready to humble it. 
One limitation only he imposes on himself — he will do 
this, " when the obedience of the Corinthians is ful- 
filled." He expressly distinguishes the Church as a 
whole from those who represent or constitute the dis- 
obedient party. There have been misunderstandings 
between the Church and himself; but as chaps, i. to vii. 
show, these have been so far overcome : the body of 
the Church has reconciled itself to its founder ; it has 
returned, so to speak, to its allegiance to Paul, and has 
busied itself in carrying out his will. When this pro- 
cess, at present only in course, is completed, his way 
will be clear. He will be able to act with severity and 
decision against those who have troubled the Church, 
without running any risk of hurting the Church itself. 
This leads again to the reflection that, with all his high 
consciousness of spiritual power, with all his sense of 
personal wrong, the most remarkable characteristic of 
Paul is love. He waits to the last moment before he 
resorts to severer measures ; and he begs those who 
may suffer from them, begs them by the meekness and 
gentleness of Christ, to spare him such pain. 



" Ye look at the things that are before your face. If any man 
trusteth in himself that he is Christ's, let him consider this again 
with himself, that, even as he is Christ's, so also are we. For though 
I should glory somewhat abundantly concerning our authority (which 
the Lord gave for building you up, and not for casting you down), 

1 shall not be put to shame: that I may not seem as if I would terrify 
you by my letters. For, His letters, they say, are weighty and 
strong ; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no 
account. Let such a one reckon this, that, what we are in word by 
letters when we are absent, such are we also in deed when we are 
present. For we are not bold to number or compare ourselves with 
certain of them that commend themselves : but they themselves, 
measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves with 
themselves, are without understanding. But we will not glory 
beyond our measure, but according to the measure of the province 
which God apportioned to us as a measure, to reach even unto you. 
For we stretch not ourselves overmuch, as though we reached not 
unto you : for we came even as far as unto you in the Gospel of 
Christ : not glorying beyond our measure, that is, in other men's 
labours ; but having hope that, as your faith groweth, we shall be 
magnified in you according to our province unto further abundance, 
so as to preach the Gospel even unto the parts beyond you, and not to 
glory in another's province in regard of things ready to our hand. 
But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. For not he that 
commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth." — 

2 Cor. x. 7-18 (R.V.). 

THIS passage abounds with grammatical and textual 
difficulties, but the general import and the purpose 
of it are plain. The self-assertion of «uto? ija> IIav\o<i 
(ver. 1) receives its first interpretation and expansion 


x. 7-i8.] COMPARISONS 301 

here : we see what it is that Paul claims, and we begin 
to see the nature of the opposition against which his 
claim has to be made good. Leaving questions of 
grammatical construction aside, vv. 7 and 8 define the 
situation ; and it is convenient to take them as if they 
stood alone. 

There was a person in Corinth — more than one 
indeed, but one in particular, as the t« in ver. 7 and 
the singular (prjalv 1 in ver. 10 suggest — who claimed to 
be Christ's, or of Christ, in a sense which disparaged 
and was meant to disparage Paul. If we use the plural, 
to include them all, we must not suppose that they are 
identical with the party in the Church who are censured 
in the First Epistle for saying, " I am of Christ," just 
as others said, " I am of Paul," " I am of Apollos," " I 
am of Cephas." That party may have been dependent 
upon them, but the individuals here referred to are 
taxed with an exclusiveness and arrogance, and in the 
close of the chapter with a wanton trespassing on 
Paul's province, which show that they were not native 
to the Church, but intruders into it. They were con- 
fident that they were Christ's in a sense which dis- 
credited Paul's apcstleship, and entitled them, so to 
speak, to legitimate a Church which his labours had 
called into being. Everything compels us to recognise 
in them Jewish Christians, who had been connected 
with Christ in a way in which Paul had not ; who had 
known Kim in the flesh, or had brought recommendatory 
letters from the Mother Church at Jerusalem ; and who, 
on the strength of these accidents, gave themselves airs 
of superiority in Pauline Churches, and corrupted the 
simplicity of the Pauline Gospel. 

This is the reading adopted by Westcott and Hort with most 
MSS. except B. 


The first words in ver. 7 — ra Kara irpoaonrov (SXeireTi 
■ — are no doubt directed to this situation, but they have 
been very variously rendered. Our Authorised Version 
has, " Do ye look on things after the outward appear- 
ance ? " That is, " Are you really imposed upon by the 
pretensions of these men, by their national and carnal 
distinctions, as if these had anything to do with the 
Gospel ? " This is a good Pauline idea, but it is doubt- 
ful whether t^ Kara TrpoacoTrov can yield it. The natural 
sense of these words is, "What is before your face." 
The Revised Version accordingly renders, "Ye look 
at the things that are before your face " : meaning, 
apparently, " You allow yourselves to be carried away 
by whatever is nearest to you — at present, by these inter- 
loping Jews, and the claims they flaunt before your eyes." 
It seems to me more natural, with many good scholars, 
to take ySXeVere, in spite of its unemphatic position, as 
imperative : " Lock at the things which are before your 
faces ! The most obvious and palpable facts discredit 
these Judaists and accredit me. A claim to be Christ's 
is not to be made out a priori by any carnal prerogatives, 
or any human recommendations; it is only made out 
by this — that Christ Himself attests it by giving him 
who makes it success as an evangelist. Look at what 
confronts you 1 There is not a single Christian thing 
you see which is not Christ's own testimony that I am 
His ; unless you are senseless and blind, my position 
and authority as an apostle can never be impugned 
among you." The argument is thus the same as that 
which he uses in chap. iii. 1-3, and in the First Epistle, 
chap. ix. 2. 

At first Paul asserts only a bare equivalence to his 
Jewish opponent : " Let him consider this with himself, 
that, even as he is Christ's, so also are we." The 

x. 7-i8.] COMPARISONS 303 

historical, outward connexion with Christ, whatever it 
may have been, amounted in this relation to exactly 
nothing at all. Not what Christ was, but what He is, 
is the life and reality of the Christian religion. Not an 
accidental acquaintance with Him as He lived in Galilee 
or Jerusalem, but a spiritual fellowship with Him as 
He reigns in the heavenly places, makes a Christian. 
Not a letter written by human hands — though they 
should be the hands of Peter or James or John — legiti- 
mates a man in the apostolic career; but only the 
sovereign voice which says, " He is a chosen vessel unto 
Me, to bear My Name." Neither as Christian nor as 
apostle can one establish a monopoly by making his 
appeal to " the flesh." The application of this Christian 
truth has constantly to be made anew, for human nature 
loves a monopoly; it does not seem really to have a 
thing, unless its possession of it is exclusive. We are 
all too ready to unchurch, or unchristianise, others ; to 
say, " We are Christ's," with an emphasis which means 
that others are not. Churches with a strong organi- 
sation are especially tempted to this unchristian 
narrowness and pride. Their members think almost 
instinctively of other Christians as outsiders and in- 
feriors ; they would like to take them in, to reordain 
their ministers, to reform their constitution, to give 
validity to their sacraments — in one word, to legitimate 
them as Christians and as Christian societies. All this 
is mere unintelligence and arrogance. Legitimacy is 
a convenient and respectable political fiction ; but to 
make the constitution of any Christian body, which has 
developed under the pressure of historical exigences, 
the law for the legitimation of Christian life, ministry, 
and worship everywhere, is to deny the essential cha- 
racter of the Christian religion. It is to play toward. 


men whom Christ has legitimated by His Spirit, and by 
His blessing on their work, precisely the part which the 
Judaisers played toward Paul ; and to compromise with 
it is to betray Christ, and to renounce the freedom of 
the Spirit. 

But the Apostle does not stop short with claiming a 
bare equality with his rivals. " For though * I should 
boast somewhat more abundantly concerning our 
authority I shall not be put to shame " — i.e., " The 

facts I have invited you to look at will bear me out." 
The key to this passage is to be found in I Cor. xv. 15, 
where he boasts that, though the least of the apostles, 
and not worthy to be called an apostle, he had, through 
the grace of God given to him, laboured more abundantly 
than all the rest. If it came to comparison, then, of 
the attestation which Christ gave to their several labours, 
and so to their authority, by success in evangelising, it 
would not be Paul who would have to hide his head. But 
he does not choose to boast any more of his authority 
at this point. He has no desire to clothe himself in 
terrors ; on the contrary, he wishes to avoid 2 the very 
appearance of scaring them out of their wits by his 
letters (for iK(j>o/3elv compare Mark ix. 6 ; Heb. xii. 21). 
His authority has been given him, not for the pulling 
down, but for the building up, of the Church ; it is not 
lordly (chap. i. 24), but ministerial ; and he would 

1 The difficult re in tan re yhp is most easily explained by the 
ellipse of a corresponding ko.1 : oi' several reasons he might adduce, 
Paul adduces only one (Schmiedel). 

2 The ninth verse, "Ira /it] Sofa k.t.X., is most naturally taken with 
what precedes, and most simply explained by supplying something 
like, " but I say no more about it, i.e. about my authority, that I may 
not seem," etc. To say more would look like trying to frighten them. 
Others make it protasis to ver. II, ver. 10 being then a parenthesis. 

x.7-i8.] COMPARISONS 305 

wish, not only to show it in kindly service, but also in 
a kindly aspect. " Not for casting down," in ver. 8, is 
no contradiction of" mighty for casting down " in ver. 4 : 
the object in the two cases is quite different. Many 
things in man must be cast down — many high thoughts, 
much pride, much • wilfulness, much presumption and 
sufficiency — but the casting down of these is the building 
up of souls. 

At this point comes what is logically a parenthesis, 
and we hear in it the criticisms passed at Corinth on 
Paul, and his own reply to them. " His letters," they 
say (or, he says), " are weighty and strong ; but his 
bodily presence weak, and his speech of no account." 
The last part of this criticism has been much misunder- 
stood ; it is really of moral import, but has been read 
in a physical sense. It does not say anything at all 
about the Apostle's physique, or about his eloquence 
or want of eloquence ; it tells us that (according to 
these critics), when he was actually present at Corinth, 
he was somehow or other ineffective ; and when he 
spoke there, people simply disregarded him. An 
uncertain tradition no doubt represents Paul as an 
infirm and meagre person, and it is easy to believe that 
to Greeks he must sometimes have seemed embarrassed 
and incoherent in speech to the last degree (what, 
for instance, could have seemed more formless to a 
Greek than w. 12-18 of this chapter?): nevertheless, 
it is nothing like this which is in view here. The 
criticism is not of his physique, nor of his style, but 
of his personality — what is described is not his appear- 
ance nor his eloquence, but the effect which the man 
produced when he went to Corinth and spoke. It 
was nof'nug. As a man, bodily present, he could get 
ti 'hvj f'f>j.e . he talked, and nobody listened. It is 



implied that this criticism is false ; and Paul bids 
any one who makes it consider that what he is in 
word by letters when he is absent, that he will also 
be in deed when he is present. The double rdle 
of potent pamphleteer and ineffective pastor is not 
for him. * 

The kind of criticism which was here passed on St. 
Paul is one to which every preacher is obnoxious. An 
epistle is, so to speak, the man's words without the 
man ; and such is human weakness, that they are often 
-stronger than the man speaking in bodily presence, that 
is, than the man and his words together. The character 
of the speaker, as it were, discounts all he says ; and 
when he is there, and delivers his message in person, 
the message itself suffers an immense depreciation. 
This ought not so to be, and with a man who cultivates 
sincerity will not so be. He will be, himself, as good 
as his words ; his effectiveness will be the same 
whether he writes or speaks. Nothing ultimately 
counts in the work of a Christian minister but what 
he can say and do and get done when in direct contact 
with living men. In many cases the modern sermon 
really answers to the epistle as it is referred to in 
this sarcastic comment ; in the pulpit, people say, the 
minister is impressive and memorable ; but in the 
ordinary intercourse of life, and even in the pastoral 
relation, where he has to meet people on an equal 
footing, his power quite disappears. He is an ineffective 
person, and his words have no weight. Where this 
is true, there is something very far wrong ; and though 
it was not true in the case of Paul, there are cases 
in which it is. To bring the pastoral up to the level 
of the pulpit work — the care of individual souls and 
characters to the intensity and earnestness of study 

x. 7-i8.] COMPARISONS 307 

and preaching — would be the saving of many a minister 
and many a congregation. 1 

But to return to the text. The Apostle is disinclined 
to pursue this line further : in defending himself against 
these obscure detractors, he can hardly avoid the 
appearance of self-commendation, which of all things 
he abhors. An acute observer has remarked that when 
war lasts long the opposing combatants borrow each 
other's weapons and tactics : and it was this uninviting 
weapon that the policy of his opponents laid to the 
Apostle's hand. With ironical recognition of their 
hardihood, he declines it: " We are not bold — have not 
the courage — to number ourselves among, or compare 
ourselves with, certain of them that commend them- 
selves" — i.e., the Judaists who had introduced them- 
selves to the Church. "Far be it fr.>m me," says the 
Apostle grimly, " to claim a place among, or near, such 
a distinguished company." But he is too much in 
earnest to prolong the ironical strain, and in the verses 
which follow, from 12 to 16, he states in good set 
terms the differences between himself and them. 
(1) They measure themselves by themselves, and com- 
pare themselves among themselves, and in so doing are 
without understanding. 2 They constitute a religious 
coterie, a sort of clique or ring in the Church, ignoring 
all but themselves, making themselves the only standard 

1 The following sentence from a letter ot H. E. M. (a sister of 
James Mozley's) is an interesting illustration of this truth : " I con- 
sider Mr. Rickards as the type and model of a country parish and 
domestic priest. All his powers and energies are expended on and 
exerted for teaching, preaching, and talking. Bodily presence is his 
vocation : unlike some, writers and others, he must be seen to be felt ; 
and unlike others again, writers and others, the more he is seen, th* 
more he is felt." 

1 See note, p. 311. 


of what is Christian, and betraying, by that very pro- 
ceeding, their want of sense. There is a fine liberality 
about this sharp saying, and it is as necessary now as 
in the first century. Men coalesce, within the limits 
of the Christian community, from affinities of various 
kinds — sympathy for a type or an aspect of doctrine, 
or liking for a form of polity ; and as it is easy, so is it 
common, for those who have drifted like to like, to set 
up their own associations and preferences as the only 
law and model for all. They take the air of superior 
persons, and the penalty of the superior person is to be 
unintelligent. They are without understanding. The 
standard of the coterie — be it "evangelical," "high 
church," "broad church," or what you please — is not 
the standard of God ; and to measure all things by it is 
not only sinful but stupid. In contrast to this Judaistic 
clique, who saw no Christianity except under their own 
colours, Paul's standard is to be found in the actual 
working of God through the Gospel. He would have 
said with Ignatius, only with a deeper insight into 
every word, " Where Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic 
Church." (2) Another point of difference is this : Paul 
works independently as an evangelist ; it has always 
been his rule to break new ground. God has assigned 
him a province to labour in, large enough to gratify 
the highest ambition; he is not going beyond it, nor 
exaggerating his authority, when he asserts his apostolic 
dignity in Corinth ; the Corinthians know as well aa 
he that he came all the way to them, and was the firsl 
to come, ministering the Gospel of Christ. Nay, it ia 
only the weakness of their faith that keeps him from 
going farther : and he has hope that as their faith 
grows it will set him free to carry the Gospel beyond 
them to Italy and Spain ; this would be the crowr 


of his greatness as an evangelist, and it depends on 
them (ev v^ilv fieyaKwOrivai) whether he is to win it ; 
in any case, the winning of it would be in harmony 
with his vocation, the carrying of it out in glorious 
fulness (xaTa tov icavbva ei? TrepMro-eiai') ; for, like John 
Wesley, he could say the whole world was his parish. 
If he boasts at all, it is not immeasurably ; it is on the 
basis of the gift and calling of God, within the limits 
of what God has wrought by him and by no other ; he 
never intrudes into another's province and boasts of 
what he finds done to his hand. But this was what 
the Jews did. They did not propagate the Gospel with 
apostolic enthusiasm among the heathen ; they waited 
till Paul had done the hard preliminary work, and 
formed Christian congregations everywhere, and then 
they slunk into them — in Galatia, in Macedonia, in 
Achaia — talking as if these Churches were their work, 
disparaging their real father in Christ, and claiming to 
complete and legitimate — which meant, in effect, to 
subvert — his work. No wonder Paul was scornful, 
and did not venture to put himself in a line with such 

Two feelings are compounded all through this passage : 
an intense sympathy with the purpose of God that the 
Gospel should be preached to every creature — Paul's 
very soul melts into that ; and an intense scorn for the 
spirit that sneaks and poaches on another's ground, 
and is more anxious that some men should be good 
sectarians than that all men should be good disciples. 
This evil spirit Paul loathes, just as Christ loathed it ; 
the temper of these verses is that in which the Master 
cried, " Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites ! 
for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte; 
and when he is become so, ye make him twofold more 


a son of hell than yourselves." Of course the evil 
spirit must always be disguised, both from others and 
from itself: the proselytiser assumes the garb of the 
evangelist ; but the proselytiser turned evangelist is 
the purest example in the world of Satan disguised 
as an angel of light. The show is divine, but the 
reality is diabolical. It does not matter what the 
special sectarianism is : the proselytising of a hier- 
archical Church, and the proselytising of the Plymouth 
Brethren, are alike dishonourable and alike condemned. 
And the safeguard of the soul against this base spirit 
is an interest like Paul's in the Christianising of those 
who do not know Christ at all. Why should Churches 
compete? why should their agencies overlap? why 
should they steal from each other's folds ? why should 
they be anxious to seal all believers with their private 
seal, when the whole world lies in wickedness ? That 
field is large enough for all the efforts of all evangelists, 
and till it has been sown with the good seed from end 
to end there can be nothing but reprobation for those 
who trespass on the province of others, and boast that 
they have made their own what they certainly did not 
make Christ's. 

At the close, to borrow Bengel's expression, Paul 
sounds a retreat. He has liberated his mind about his 
adversaries — always a more or less dangerous process ; 
and after the excitement and self-assertion are over, 
he composes it again in the presence of God. He 
checks himself, we feel, with that Old Testament word, 
" Now he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. I 
have always broken new ground; I have come as far 
as you, and wish to go farther, evangelising ; I never 
have boasted of another man's labours as if they were 
mine, or claimed the credit of what he had done ; but 

x.7-i8.] COMPARISONS 31 1 

all this is mine only as God's gift. It is His grace 
bestowed on me, and not in vain. I would not boast 
except in Him ; for not he who commends himself is 
approved, but only he whom the Lord commends." 
No character which is only self-certificated can stand the 
test : no claim to apostolic dignity and authority can be 
maintained which the Lord does not attest by granting 
apostolic success. 

Note on w. 12 and 13. — In some MSS. (D*, F, G, 109, It., and some 
Latins) the last two words of ver. 12 and the first two of ver. 13 
(pi avviaaiv ri/jtefc Si) are omitted. Most editors of the text (Tischdf. 
viii., Tregelles, Westcott and Hort) seem to think the omission 
accidental ; among exegetes, the fact that it yields an easy and 
natural, though of course a quite different, sense, has caused some 
hesitation. Thus Bengel, and recently Schmiedel, reject the words. 
The latter renders the whole passage : " We do not venture to put 
ourselves on a level, or to compare ourselves, with certain of those 
who commend themselves ; but in measuring ourselves by ourselves, 
and comparing ourselves with ourselves, we shall not boast beyond 
measure, but according to the measure of the rule," etc. This is no 
doubt intelligible and appropriate enough, and certainly one's first 
impression is that dXX' avrol in ver. 12 ought to refer to Paul ; but 
as the meaning yielded by the passage with the four words included 
is equally appropriate, and their insertion immeasurably harder to 
understand than their omission, it seems preferable to let them 
stand, in the sense explained above. They are found (with the 
variation of for avviaaiv in H*) in N**, B, minusc. Theo- 
doret: in E, K, L, P, the form is avviodaiv. Apparently it is only 
by an accident that their omission leaves good sense. 



" Would that ye could bear with me in a little foolishness : nay indeed 
bear with me. For I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy: for 
I espoused you to one husband, that I might present you as a pure 
virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent 
beguiled Eve in his craftiness, your minds should be corrupted from 
the simplicity and the purity that is toward Christ. For if he that 
cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we did not preach, or if ye 
receive a different spirit, which ye did not receive, or a different 
gospel, which ye did not accept, ye do well to bear with him. For 

1 reckon that I am not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles. 
But though / be rude in speech, yet atn I not in knowledge ; nay, in 
everything we have made it manifest among all men to you-ward." — 

2 Cor. xi. 1-6 (R.V.). 

ALL through the tenth chapter there is a conflict 
in the Apostle's mind. He is repeatedly, as it 
were, on the verge of doing something, from which 
he as often draws back. He does not like to boast — 
he does not like to speak of himself at all — but the 
tactics of his enemies, and the faithlessness of the 
Corinthians, are making it inevitable. In chap. xi. 
he takes the plunge. He adopts the policy of his 
adversaries, and proceeds to enlarge on his services 
to the Church; but with magnificent irony, he first 
assumes the mask of a fool. It is not the genuine 
Paul who figures here; it is Paul playing a part to 
which he has been compelled against his will, acting 


d. 1-6.] GODLY JEALOUSY 313 

in a character which is as remote as possible from his 
own. It is the character native and proper to the 
other side; and when Paul, with due deprecation, 
assumes it for the nonce, he not only preserves his 
modesty and his self-respect, but lets his opponents 
see what he thinks of them. He plays the fool for the 
occasion, and of set purpose ; they do it always, and 
without knowing it, like men to the manner born. 

But it is the Corinthians who are directly addressed. 
"Would that ye could bear with me in a little foolish- 
ness : nay indeed bear with me." In the last clause, 
avi^eaOe may be either imperative (as the Revised 
Version gives it in the text), or indicative (as in the 
margin : " but indeed ye do bear with me "). The use 
of aXka rather favours the last ; and it would be quite 
in keeping with the extremely ironical tone of the 
passage to render it so. Even in the First Epistle, 
Paul had reflected on the self-conceit of the Corinthians : 
"We are fools for Christ's sake, but ye are wise in 
Christ." That self-conceit led them to think lightly 
of him, but not just to cast him off; they still tolerated 
him as a feeble sort of person : "Ye do indeed bear 
with me." But whichever alternative be preferred, the 
irony passes swiftly into the dead earnest of the second 
verse: "For I am jealous over you with a godly 
jealousy : for I espoused you to one husband, that I 
might present you as a pure virgin to Christ." 

This is the ground on which Paul claims their 
forbearance, even when he indulges in a little " folly." 
If he is guilty of what seems to them extravagance, it 
is the extravagance of jealousy — i.e., of love tormented 
by fear. Nor is it any selfish jealousy, of which he 
ought to be ashamed. He is not anxious about his 
private or personal interests in the Church. He is 


not humiliated and provoked because his former pupils 
have come to their spiritual majority, and asserted their 
independence of their master. These are common 
dangers and common sins; and every minister needs 
to be on his guard against them. Paul's jealousy over 
the Corinthians was "a jealousy of God"; God had 
put it into his heart, and what it had in view was God's 
interest in them. It distressed him to think, not that 
his personal influence at Corinth was on the wane, 
but that the work which God had done in their souls 
was in danger of being frustrated, the inheritance 
He had acquired in them of being lost. Nothing but 
God's interest had been in the Apostle's mind from 
the beginning. "I betrothed you," he says, "to one 
husband " — the emphasis lies on one — " that I might 
present you as a pure virgin to Christ." 1 

It is the Church collectively which is represented 
by the pure virgin, and it ought to be observed that 
this is the constant use in Scripture, alike in the Old 
Testament and the New. It is Israel as a whole which 
is married to the Lord ; it is the Christian Church as 
a whole (or a Church collectively, as here) which is the 
Bride, the Lamb's wife. To individualise the figure, 
and speak of Christ as the Bridegroom of the soul, is 
not Scriptural, and almost always misleads. It intro- 
duces the language and the associations of natural 
affection into a region where they are entirely out of 
place ; we have no terms of endearment here, and 
should have none, but high thoughts of the simplicity, 
the purity, and the glory of the Church. Glory is 
especially suggested by the idea of "presenting" the 

1 " Woods, trees, meadows, and hills are my witnesses that I drew 
on a fair match betwixt Christ and Anwoth." — S. Rutherford. 

». 1-6.] GODLY JEALOUSY 315 

Church to Christ. The presentation takes place when 
Christ comes again to be glorified in His saints ; that 
great day shines unceasingly in the Apostle's heart, 
and all he does is done in its light. The infinite issues 
of fidelity and infidelity to the Lord, as that day makes 
them manifest, are ever present to his spirit; and it is 
this which gives such divine intensity to his feelings 
wherever the conduct of Christians is concerned. He 
sees everything, not as dull eyes see it now, but as 
Christ in His glory will show it then. And it takes 
nothing less than this to keep the soul absolutely pure 
and loyal to the Lord. 

The Apostle explains in the third verse the nature of 
his alarm. " I fear," he says, " lest by any means, as 
the serpent beguiled Eve in his craftiness, your minds 
should be corrupted from the simplicity [and the purity] 1 
which is toward Christ." The whole figure is very 
expressive. " Simplicity " means singleness of mind ; 
the heart of the " pure virgin " is undivided ; she ought 
not to have, and will not have, a thought for any but 
the " one man " to whom she is betrothed. " Purity " 
again is, as it were, one species of " simplicity " ; it is 
" simplicity " as shown in the keeping of the whole 
nature unspotted for the Lord. What Paul dreads 
is the spiritual seduction of the Church, the winning 
away of her heart from absolute loyalty to Christ. The 
serpent beguiled Eve by his craftiness; he took advan- 
tage of her unsuspecting innocence to wile her away 

1 The words koX t9)% ayvoTtiros are bracketed by Westcott and 
Hort. They are very strongly attested (by N, B, F, gr., G, etc.) ; but 
as they are found in some authorities before, instead of after, t§» 
avXAnjros, it is not improbable that they may be a gloss on these 
last words, suggested by &7P7JV in ver. 2, and incorporated in the text. 
They rather blur than emphasise the thought. 


from her simple belief in God and obedience to Him. 
When she took into her mind the suspicions he raised, 
her " simplicity " was gone, and her " purity " followed. 
The serpent's agents — the servants of Satan, as Paul 
calls them in ver. 1 5 — are at work in Corinth ; and he 
fears that their craftiness may seduce the Church from 
its first simple loyalty to Christ. It is natural for us 
to take airX6rri<i and ayvoTi)? in a purely ethical sense, 
but it is by no means certain that this is all that is 
meant; indeed, if ical rf}? dyvoT7]To<; be a gloss, as 
seems not improbable, aTr\oTrf<i may well have a dif- 
ferent application. " The simplicity which is toward 
Christ," from which he fears lest by any means " their 
minds " or " thoughts " be'corrupted, will rather be their 
whole-hearted acceptance of Christ as Paul conceived 
of Him and preached Him, their unreserved, unquestion- 
ing surrender to that form of doctrine (rthrou StSaxfy, 
Rom. vi. 17) to which they had been delivered. This, 
of course, in Paul's mind, involved the other — there is 
no separation of doctrine and practice for him ; but it 
makes a theological rather than an ethical interest the 
predominant one ; and this interpretation, it seems to me, 
coheres best with what follows, and with the whole pre- 
occupation of the Apostle in this passage. The people 
whose influence he feared were not unbelievers, nor were 
they immoral ; they professed to be Christians, and 
indeed better Christians than Paul ; but their whole con- 
ception of the Gospel was at variance with his ; if they 
made way at Corinth, his work would be undone. The 
Gospel which he preached would no longer have that 
unsuspicious acceptance ; the Christ whom he proclaimed 
would no longer have that unwavering loyalty ; instead 
of simplicity and purity, the heart of the " pure virgin " 
would be possessed by misgivings, hesitations, perhaps 

xi. 1-6.] GODLY JEALOUSY 317 

by out-right infidelity ; his hope of presenting her to 
Christ on the great day would be gone. 

This is what we are led to by ver. 4, one of the 
most vexed passages in the New Testament. The 
text of the last word is uncertain : some read the im- 
perfect dm'%ec-#e ; others, including our Revisers, the 
present dve%eo-0e. The last is the better attested, and 
suits best the connexion of thought. The interpretations 
may be divided into two classes. First, there are those 
which assume that the suppositions made in this verse 
are not true. This is evidently the intention in our 
Authorised Version. It renders, " For if he that cometh 
preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, 
or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, 
or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might 
well bear with him." But — we must interpolate — nothing 
of this sort has really taken place; for Paul counts 
himself not a whit inferior to the very chiefest Apostles. 
No one — not even Peter or James or John — could have 
imparted anything to the Corinthians which Paul had 
failed to impart ; and hence their spiritual seduction, no 
matter how or by whom accomplished, was perfectly 
unreasonable and gratuitous. This interpretation, with 
variations in detail which need not be pursued, is repre- 
sented by many of the best expositors, from Chrysostom 
to Meyer. " If," says Chrysostom in his paraphrase, 
" if we had omitted anything that should have been 
said, and they had made up the omission, we do not 
forbid you to attend to them. But if everything has 
been perfectly done on our part, and no blank left, how 
did they [the Apostle's adversaries] get hold of you ? " 
This is the broad result of many discussions ; and it 
is usual — though not invariable — for those who read 
the passage thus to take rcov virepXlav atroaToKwv in 


a complimentary, not a contemptuous, sense, and to 
refer it, as Chrysostom expressly does, to the three 
pillars of the primitive Church. 

The objections to this interpretation are obvious 
enough. There is first the grammatical objection, that 
a hypothetical sentence, with the present indicative in 
the protasis (el KTjpva-a-ei, el . . . Xafiftdvere), and 

the present indicative in the apodosis (av&xeo'&e), can 
by no plausibility of argument be made to mean, "If 
the interloper were preaching another Jesus . . you 
would be right to bear with him." Even if the imperfect 
is the true reading, which is improbable, this translation 
is unjustified. 1 But there is a logical as well as a 
grammatical objection. The use of yap (" for ") surely 
implies that in the sentence which it introduces we 
are to find the reason for what precedes. Paul is 
afraid, he has told us, lest the Church should be 
seduced from the one husband to whom he has 
betrothed her. But he can never mean to explain a 
real fear by making a number of imaginary sup- 
positions ; and so we must find in the hypothetical 
clauses here the real grounds of his alarm. People 
had come to Corinth — 6 e/rj£o/4ew><? is no doubt collective, 

1 It is worth appending two ingenious notes on this. Bengel, who 
holds that the suppositions are untrue, says: "Ponit conditionem, 
ex parte rei, impossibilem ; ideo dicit in iraperfecto toleraretis : sed 
pro conatu pseudo-apostolorum, non modo possibilem, sed plane 
praesentem ; ideo dicit in prsesenti, pradicat." Schmiedel, who holds 
that the suppositions are true, explains the impft. by saying that 
Paul resolved, while dictating, to add the apodosis in the historical 
tense to the timeless protasis, because the fact which it described 
actually lay before him. They were tolerating the other teachers: 
that is why Paul says AvelxeoOe. He happily compares Plato, Apol, 
33 A. : Ef Si rls pov Xiyorros . . iiriOvfifi ixoieir , . oidevl iruvarrt 
i<p$&vi]oa. Still, he prefers the present. 

xi. 1-6.] GODLY JEALOUSY 319 

and characterises the troublersof the Church as intruders, 
not native to it, but separable from it — doing all the 
things here supposed. Paul has espoused the Church 
to One Husband ; they preach another Jesus. Not, 
of course, a distinct Person, but certainly a distinct 
conception of the same Person. Paul's Christ was the 
Son of God, the Lord of Glory, He who by His death 
on the cross became Universal Redeemer, and by 
His ascension Universal Lord — the end of the law, 
the giver of the Spirit; it would be another Jesus if 
the intruders preached only the Son of David, or the 
Carpenter of Nazareth, or the King of Israel. Accord- 
ing to the conception of Christ, too, would be " the 
spirit " which accompanied this preaching, the charac- 
teristic temper and power of the religion it proclaimed. 
The spirit ministered by Paul in his apostolic work 
was one of power, and love, and, above all things, 
liberty ; it emancipated the soul from weakness, from 
scruples, from moral inability, from slavery to sin and 
law ; but the spirit generated by the Judaising ministry, 
the characteristic temper of the religion it proclaimed, 
was servile and cowardly. It was a spirit of bondage 
tending always to fear (Rom. viii. 15). Their whole 
gospel — to give their preaching a name it did not 
deserve (Gal. i. 6-9) — was something entirely unlike 
Paul's both in its ideas and in its spiritual fruits. 
Unlike — yes, and immeasurably inferior, and yet in 
spite of this the Corinthians put up with it well enough. 
This is the plain fact (dvexeaBe) which the Apostle 
plainly states. He had to plead for their toleration, 
but they had no difficulty in tolerating men who by 
a spurious gospel, an unspiritual conception of Christ, 
and an unworthy incapacity for understanding freedom, 
were undermining his work, and seducing their souls. 


No wonder he was jealous, and angry, and scornful, 
when he saw the true Christian religion, which has 
all time and all nations for its inheritance, in danger 
of being degraded into a narrow Jewish sectarianism ; 
the kingdom of the Spirit lost in a society in which 
race gave a prerogative, and carnal ordinances were 
revived ; and, worse still, Christ the Son of God, the 
Universal Reconciler, known only "after the flesh," 
and appropriated to a race, instead of being exalted 
as Lord of all, in whom there is no room for Greek 
or Jew, barbarian or Scythian, bond or free. The 
Corinthians bore with this nobly (icakm) ; but he who 
had begotten them in the true Gospel had to beg them 
to bear with him. 

There is only one difficulty in this interpretation, and 
that is not a serious one : it is the connexion of ver. 5 
with what precedes. Those who connect it immediately 
with ver. 4 are obliged to supply something : for example, 
" But you ought not to bear with them, for I consider 
that I am in nothing behind the very chiefest apostles." 
I have no doubt at all that oi virepkiav airbcrTo\ob — the 
superlative apostles — are not Peter, James, and John, 
but the teachers aimed at in ver. 4, the tyevhaTrocnoXoi 
of ver. 1 3 ; it is with them, and not with the Twelve 
or the eminent Three, that Paul is comparing himself. 1 
But even so, I agree with Weizsacker that the con- 
nexion- for the jap in ver. 5 must be sought further 
back — as far back, indeed, as ver. 1. "You bear well 

1 It is gratuitous to drag in a reference to the first Apostles, and 
then to suppose the Corinthians drawing the inference — " if he is not 
inferior to them, still less is he inferior to our new teachers." Such 
an inference depends on a traditional conception of apostleship which 
the Corinthians were not likely to share, and it is equally unnecessary 
«nd improbable. 

xi. 1-6.] GODLY JEALOUSY 321 

enough with them, and so you may well bear with 
me, as I beg you to do ; for I consider," etc. This is 
effective enough, and brings us back again to the main 
subject. If there is a point in which Paul is willing to 
concede his inferiority to these superlative apostles, 
it is the non-essential one of utterance. He grants 
that he is rude in speech — not rhetorically gifted or 
trained — a plain, blunt man who speaks right on. But 
he is not rude in knowledge : in every respect he has 
made that manifest, among all men, toward them. 
The last clause is hardly intelligible, and the text is 
insecure. 1 The reading ^avepaxravres is that of all the 
critical editors ; the object may either be indefinite (his 
competence in point of knowledge), or, more precisely 
ttjv iyv£)<riv itself, supplied from the previous clause. In 
no point whatever, under no circumstances, has Paul 
ever failed to exhibit to the Corinthians the whole truth 
of God in the Gospel. This it is which makes him 
scornful even when he thinks of the men whom the 
Corinthians are preferring to himself. 

When we look from the details of this passage to its 
scope, some reflections are suggested, which have their 
application still. 

(1) Our conceptioa of the Person of Christ deter- 
mines our conception of the whole Christian religion. 
What we have to proclaim to men as gospel — what we 
have to offer to them as the characteristic temper and 
virtue of the life which the Gospel originates — depends 
on the answer we give to Jesus' own question, " Whom 
say ye that I am?" A Christ who is simply human 
cannot be to men what a Christ is who is truly divine. 

1 Probably either h iravrl or h rdffiy, the latter of which is omitted 
in some authorities, is a gloss. 



The Gospel identified with Him cannot be the same ; 
the spirit of the society which gathers round Him can- 
not be the same. It is futile to ask whether such a 
gospel and such a spirit can fairly be called Christian ; 
they are in point of fact quite other things from the 
Gospel and the Spirit which are historically associated 
with the name. It is plain from this passage that the 
Apostle attached the utmost importance to his concep- 
tions of the Person and Work of the Lord : ought not 
this to give pause to those who evacuate his theology 
of many of its distinctive ideas — especially that of 
the Pre-existence of Christ — on the plea that they are 
merely theologoumena of an individual Christian, and 
that to discard them leaves the Gospel unaffected ? 
Certainly this was not what he thought. Another 
Jesus meant another spirit, another gospel — to use 
modern words, another religion and another religious 
consciousness ; and any other, the Apostle was perfectly 
sure, came short of the grandeur of the truth. The 
spirit of the passage is the same with that in Gal. i. 6 ff., 
where he erects the Gospel he has preached as the 
standard of absolute religious truth. " Though we, or 
an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any 
gospel other than that which we preached unto you, 
let him be anathema. As we have said before, so say 
I now again, If any man preacheth unto you any 
gospel other than that which ye received, let him be 

(2) " The simplicity that is toward Christ " — the 
simple acceptance of the truth about Him, and undivided 
loyalty of heart to Him — may be corrupted by influences 
originating within, as well as without, the Church. 
The infidelity which is subtlest, and most to be dreaded, 
is not the gross materialism or atheism which will not 

xi. 1-6.] GODLY JEALOUSY 323 

so much as hear the name of God or Christ ; but that 
which uses all sacred names, speaking readily of Jesus, 
the Spirit, and the Gospel, but meaning something else, 
and something less, than these words meant in apos- 
tolic lips. This it was which alarmed the jealous love 
of Paul ; this it is, in its insidious influence, which con- 
stitutes one of the most real perils of Christianity at 
the present time. The Jew in the first century, who 
reduced the Person and Work of Christ to the scale of 
his national prejudices, and the theologian in the nine- 
teenth, who discounts apostolic ideas when they do not 
suit the presuppositions of his philosophy, are open to 
the same suspicion, if they do not fall under the same 
condemnation. True thoughts about Christ — in spite 
of all the smart sayings about theological subtleties 
which have nothing to do with piety — are essential to 
the very existence of the Christian religion. 

(3) There is no comparison between the Gospel of 
God in Jesus Christ His Son and any other religion. 
The science of comparative religion is interesting as a 
science; but a Christian may be excused for finding 
the religious use of it tiresome. There is nothing true 
in any of the religions which is not already in his 
possession. He never finds a moral idea, a law of the 
spiritual life, a word of God, in any of them, to which 
he cannot immediately offer a parallel, far more simple 
and penetrating, from the revelation of Christ. He has 
no interest in disparaging the light by which millions 
of his fellow-creatures have walked, generation after 
generation, in the mysterious providence of God ; but 
he sees no reason for pretending that that light — which 
Scripture calls darkness and the shadow of death — can 
bear comparison with the radiance in which he lives. 
" If," he might say, misapplying the fourth verse — " if 


they brought us another saviour, another spirit, another 
gospel, we might be religiously interested in them ; 
but, as it is, we have everything already, and they, in 
comparison, have nothing." The same remark applies 
to " theosophy," " spiritualism," and other " gospels." 
It will be time to take them seriously when they utter 
one wise or true word on God or the soul which is not 
an echo of something in the old familiar Scriptures. 



" Or did I commit a sin in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, 
because I preached to you the Gospel of God for nought ? I robbed 
other Churches, taking wages of them that I might minister unto 
you ; and when I was present with you and was in want, I was not 
a burden on any man ; for the brethren, when they came from 
Macedonia, supplied the measure of my want ; and in everything I 
kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep 
myself. As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this 
glorying in the regions of Achaia. Wherefore ? because I love you 
not? God knoweth. But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut 
off occasion from them which desire an occasion ; that wherein they 
glory, they may be found even as we. For such men are false 
apostles, deceitful workers, fashioning themselves into apostles of 
Christ. And no marvel ; for even Satan fashioneth himself into an 
angel of light. It is no great thing therefore if his ministers also 
fashion themselves as ministers of righteousness ; whose end shall be 
according to their works. 

"I say again, Let no man think me foolish; but if _y« do, yet as 
foolish receive me, that I also may glory a little. That which I speak, 
I speak not after the Lord, but as in foolishness, in this confidence of 
glorying, Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also. 
For ye bear with the foolish gladly, being wise yourselves. For ye 
bear with a man, if he bringeth you into bondage, if he devoureth 
you, if he taketh you captive, if he exalteth himself, if he smiteth you 
on the face. 1 speak by way of disparagement, as though we had 
been weak. Yet whereinsoever any is bold (I speak in foolishness), 
I am bold also. Are they Hebrews ? so am I. Are they Israelites ? 
so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham ? so am I. Are they 
ministers of Christ? (I speak as one beside himself) I more; in 
labours more abundantly, in prisons more abundantly, in stripes 
above measure, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty 
stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, 
thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day have I been in the 

3 2 5 


deep ; in journeyings often, in perils of rivers, in perils of robbers, in 
perils from my countrymen, in perils from the Gentiles, in perils in 
the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils 
among false brethren ; in labour and travail, in watchings often, in 
hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside 
those things that are without, there is that which presseth upon me 
daily, anxiety for all the Churches. Who is weak, and I am not 
weak ? who is made to stumble, and I burn not ? " — 2 Cor. xi. 7-29 

THE connexion of ver. 7 with what precedes is 
not at once clear. The Apostle has expressed 
his conviction that he is in nothing inferior to " the 
superlative apostles " so greatly honoured by the 
Corinthians. Why, then, is he so differently treated? 
A rudeness in speech he is willing to concede, but that 
can hardly be the explanation, considering his fulness 
of knowledge. Then another idea strikes him, and he 
puts it, interrogatively, as an alternative. Can it be 
that he did wrong — humbling himself that they might 
be exalted — in preaching to them the Gospel of God 
for nought, i.e. in declining to accept support from them 
while he evangelised in Corinth ? Do they appreciate 
the interlopers more highly than Paul, because they 
exact a price for their gospel, while he preached his 
for nothing ? This, of course, is bitterly ironical ; but 
it is not gratuitous. The background of fact which 
prompted the Apostle's question was no doubt this — 
that his adversaries had misinterpreted his conduct. 
A true apostle, they said, has a right to be maintained 
by the Church; the Lord Himself has ordained that 
they who preach the Gospel should live by the Gospel ; 
but he claims no maintenance, and by that very fact 
betrays a bad conscience. He dare not make the 
claim which every true apostle makes without the least 

xi.7-29.] FOOLISH BOASTING 327 

It would be hard to imagine anything more malignant 
in its wickedness than this. Paul's refusal to claim 
support from those to whom he preached is one of the 
most purely and characteristically Christian of all his 
actions. He felt himself, by the grace of Christ, a 
debtor to all men ; he owed them the Gospel ; it was 
as if he were defrauding them if he did not tell them 
of the love of God in His Son. He felt himself in 
immense sympathy with the spirit of the Gospel ; it 
was the free gift of God to the world, and as far as it 
depended on him its absolute freeness would not be 
obscured by the merest suspicion of a price to be paid. 
He knew that in foregoing his maintenance he was 
resigning a right secured to him by Christ (1 Cor. 
ix. 14), humbling himself, as he puts it here, that 
others might be spiritually exalted ; but he had the joy 
of preaching the Gospel in the spirit of the Gospel — of 
entering, in Christ's service, into the self-sacrificing joy 
of his Lord ; and he valued this above all earthly 
reward. To accuse such a man, on such grounds, of 
having a. bad conscience, and of being afraid to live by 
his work, because he knew it was not what it pretended 
to be, was to sound the depths of baseness. It gave 
Paul in some measure the Master's experience, when 
the Pharisees said, " He casteth out devils by Beelzebub, 
the prince of the devils." It is really the prince of the 
devils, the accuser of the brethren, who speaks in all 
such malignant insinuations; it is the most diabolical 
thing any one can do — the nearest approach to sinning 
against the Holy Ghost — when he sets himself to find 
out bad motives for good actions. 

As we shall see further on, Paul's enemies made 
more specific charges : they hinted that he made his 
own out of the Corinthians indirectly, and that he 


could indemnify himself, for this abstinence, from the 
collection (chaps, xii. 16-18, chap. viii. and ix.). Perhaps 
this is why he describes his actual conduct at Corinth 
in such vigorous language (vv. 7-1 1), before saying 
anything at all of his motives. " I preached to you the 
Gospel of God," he says, "for nothing." He calls it " the 
Gospel of God " with intentional fulness and solemnity ; 
the genuine Gospel, he means — not another, which is 
no gospel at all, but a subversion of the truth. He 
robbed other Churches, and took wages from them, 
in order to minister to the Corinthians. There is a 
mingling of ideas in the strong words here used. The 
English reader thinks of Paul's doing less than justice 
to other Churches that he might do more than justice 
to the Corinthians ; but though this is true, it is not all. 
Both "robbed" (iavX^aa) and "wages" (ptywviov), as 
Bengel has pointed out, are military words, and it is 
difficult to resist the impression that Paul used them 
as such ; he did not come to Corinth to be dependent 
on any one, but in the course of a triumphant progress, 
in which he devoted the spoils of his earlier victories 
for Christ to a new campaign in Achaia. 1 Nay, even 
when he was with them and was " in want " (what a 
ray of light that one word va-Teprjdek lets into his 
circumstances !), he did not throw himself like a benumb- 
ing weight on any one ; what his own labours failed to 
supply, the brethren (perhaps Silas and Timothy) made 
good when they came from Macedonia. This has been 
his practice, and will continue to be so. He swears 
by the truth of Christ that is in him, that no man shall 
ever stop his mouth, so far as boasting of this independ- 

1 This (observe the aorist Xafidv) implies that he brought some 
money with him from Macedonia to Corinth. 

xi. 7-29.J FOOLISH BOASTING 329 

ence is concerned, in the regions of Achaia. Why? 
His tender heart dismisses the one painful supposition 
which could possibly arise. " Because I love you not ? 
God knoweth." Love is wounded when its proffered 
gifts are rejected with scorn, and when their rejection 
means that it is rejected ; but that was not the situation 
here. Paul can appeal to Him who knows the heart 
in proof of the sincerity with which he loves the 

His fixed purpose to be indebted to no one in 
Achaia has another object in view. What that is he 
explains in the twelfth verse. Strange to say, this 
verse, like ver. 4, has received two precisely opposite 
interpretations. (1) Some start with the idea that 
Paul's adversaries at Corinth were persons who took 
no support from the Church, and boasted of their 
disinterestedness in this respect. The " occasion " 
which they desired was an occasion of any sort for 
disparaging and discrediting Paul ; and they felt they 
would have such an occasion if Paul accepted support 
from the Church, and so put himself in a position of 
inferiority to them. But Paul persists in his self- 
denying policy, with the object of depriving them of 
the opportunity they seek, and at the same time of 
proving them — in this very point of disinterestedness — 
to be in exactly the same position as himself. But 
surely, throughout both Epistles, a contrast is implied, 
in this very point, between Paul and his opponents : 
the tacit assumption is always that his line of conduct 
is singular, and is not to be made a rule. And in the 
face of ver. 20 it is too much to assume that it was 
the rule of his Judaising opponents in Corinth. (2) 
Others start with the idea, which seems to me indubit- 
ably right, that these opponents did accept support 


from the Church. But even on this assumption 
opinions diverge, (a) Some argue that Paul pursued 
his policy of abstinence partly to deprive them of any 
opportunity of disparaging him, and partly to compel 
them to adopt it themselves (" that they may be found 
even as we "). 1 I can hardly imagine this being taken 
seriously. Why should Paul have wanted to lift these 
preachers of a false gospel to a level with himself in 
point of generosity ? To coerce them into a reluctant 
self-denial could be no possible object to him either of 
wish or hope. Hence there seems only (b) the other 
alternative open, which makes the last clause — " that 
wherein they boast, they may be found even as we " — 
depend, not upon " what I do, that I will do," but 
upon " them that desire occasion." 2 What the adver- 
saries desired was, not occasion to disparage Paul in 
general, but occasion of being on an equality with him 
in the matter in which they gloried — viz., their apostolic 
claims. They felt the advantage which Paul's dis- 
interestedness gave him with the Corinthians ; they 
had not themselves the generosity needed to imitate 
it ; it was not enough to assail it with covert slanders 
(chap. xii. 16-18), or to say that he was afraid to 
claim an apostle's due ; it would have been all they 
wanted had he resigned it. Then they could have said 
that in that in which they boasted — apostolic dignity 
— they were precisely on a level with him. But not 
to mention the spiritual motives for his conduct, which 
have been already explained, and were independent of 
all relation to his opponents, Paul was too capable a 
strategist to surrender such a position to the enemy. 

1 That is, the two 'Iva. are co-ordinate. 

* That is, the tVa are not co-ordinate, but the second is subordinate 
to twv 8e\6vTb)v 6.4>op)x7iv. 

xi. 7-29-3 FOOLISH BOASTING 331 

It would never be by action of his that he and they 
found themselves on the same ground. 

At the very mention of such an equality his heart 
rises within him. " Found even as we ! Why, such 
men are false apostles, deceitful workers, fashioning 
themselves into apostles of Christ." Here, at last, the 
irony is cast aside, and Paul calls a spade a spade. 
The conception of apostleship in the New Testament 
is not that dogmatic traditional one, which limits the 
name to the Twelve, or to the Twelve and the Apostle 
of the Gentiles ; as we see from passages like chap. viii. 
23, Acts xiv. 4, 14, it had a much larger application. 
What Paul means when he calls his opponents false 
apostles is not that persons in their position could 
have no right to the name ; but that persons with 
their character, their aims, and their methods, would 
only deceive others when they used it. It ought to 
cover something quite different from what it actually 
did cover in them. He explains himself further when 
he calls them "deceitful workers." That they were 
active he does not deny; but the true end of their 
activity was not declared. As far as the word itself 
goes, the " deceit " which they used may have been 
intended to cloak either their personal or their prose- 
lytising views. After what we have read in chap. x. 
12-18, the latter seems preferable. The Judaising 
preachers had shown their hand in Galatia, demanding 
openly that Paul's converts should be circumcised, and 
keep the law of Moses as a whole ; but their experience 
there had made them cautious, and when they came 
to Corinth they proceeded more diplomatically. They 
tried to sap the Pauline Gospel, partly by preaching 
" another Jesus," partly by calling in question the 
legitimacy of Paul's vocation. They said nothing 


openly of what was the inevitable and intended issue of 
all this — the bringing of spiritual Gentile Christendom 
under the old Jewish yoke. But it is this which goes 
to the Apostle's soul ; he can be nothing but irrecon- 
cilably hostile to men who have assumed the guise 
of apostles of Christ, in order that they may with 
greater security subvert Christ's characteristic work. 
Paul dwells on the deceitfulness of their conduct as 
its most offensive feature ; yet he does not wonder 
at it, for even Satan, he says, fashions himself into 
an angel of light. It is no great thing, then, if 
his servants also fashion themselves as servants of 

We can only tell in a general way what Paul meant 
when he spoke of Satan, the prince of darkness, trans- 
figuring himself so as to appear a heavenly angel. 
He may have had some Jewish legend in his mind, 
some story of a famous temptation, unknown to us, 
or he may only have intended to represent to the 
imagination, with the utmost possible vividness, one 
of the familiar laws in our moral experience, a law 
which was strikingly illustrated by the conduct of his 
adversaries at Corinth. Evil, we all know, could never 
tempt us if we saw it simply as it is ; disguise is 
essential to its power ; it appeals to man through ideas 
and hopes which he cannot but regard as good. So 
it was in the very first temptation. An act which in 
its essential character was neither more nor less than 
one of direct disobedience to God was represented by 
the tempter, not in that character, but as the means 
by which man was to obtain possession of a tree good 
for food (sensual satisfaction), and pleasant to the 
eyes (aesthetic satisfaction), and desirable to make one 
wise (intellectual satisfaction). All these satisfactions, 

xi. 7-29.3 FOOLISH BOASTING 333 

which in themselves are undeniably good, were the 
cloak under which the tempter hid his true features. 
He was a murderer from the beginning, and entered 
Eden to ruin man, but he presented himself as one 
offering to man a vast enlargement of life and joy. 
This is the nature of all temptations ; to disguise 
himself, to look as like a good angel as he can, is the 
first necessity, and therefore the first invention, of the 
devil. And all who do his work, the Apostle says r 
naturally imitate his devices. The soul of man is born 
for good, and will not listen at all to any voice which 
does not profess at least to speak for good : this is 
why the devil is a liar from the beginning, and the 
father of lies. Lying in word and deed is the one 
weapon with which he can assail the simplicity of man. 
But how does this apply to the Judaisers in Corinth? 
To Paul, we must understand, they were men affecting 
to serve Christ, but really impelled by personal, or at 
the utmost by partisan, feelings. Their true object 
was to win an ascendency for themselves, or for their 
party, in the Church ; but they made their way into 
it as evangelists and apostles. Nominally, they were 
ministers of Christ; really, they ministered to their 
own vanity, and to the bigotry and prejudices of their 
race. They professed to be furthering the cause of 
righteousness, 1 but in sober truth the only cause which 

1 There has been some discussion as to the precise force of dixatocvvri 
("righteousness ") in this place. It seems to me most natural to take 
it, wichout suspicion, in a perfectly simple sense : a minister ot 
righteousness is the truly good character which these bad men affect. 
To suppose a covert sneer at their " legalism," or that they had pointed 
to such matters as are discussed in I Cor. v., viii., and x., as in- 
dicating the need of a gospel which would pay more attention to 
righteousness than Paul's, is surely too clever. 


was the better for them was that of their own private im- 
portance ; the result of their ministry was, not that bad 
men became good, but that they themselves felt entitled 
to give themselves airs. Over against all this unreality 
Paul remembers the righteous judgment of God. 
'" Whose end," he concludes abruptly, " shall be accord- 
ing to their works." 

The most serious aspect of such a situation as this 
is seen when we consider that men may fill it uncon- 
sciously : they may devote themselves to a cause which 
looks like the cause of Christ, or the cause of righteous- 
ness ; and at bottom it may not be Christ or righteous- 
ness at all which is the animating principle in their 
hearts. It is some hidden regard to themselves, or to 
a party with which they are identified. Even when 
they labour, and possibly suffer, it is this, and not 
loyalty to Christ, which sustains them. It may be in 
defence of orthodoxy, or in furtherance of liberalism, 
that a man puts himself forward in the Church, and in 
either case he will figure to those who agree with him 
as a servant of righteousness ; but equally in either 
case the secret spring of his action may be pride, the 
desire to assert a superiority, to consolidate a party 
which is his larger self, to secure an area in which he 
may rule. He may spend energy and talent on the 
work ; but if this is the ultimate motive of it, it is the 
work of the devil, and not of God. Even if the doctrine 
he defends is the true one — even if the policy he main- 
tains is the right one — the services he may accidentally 
render are far outweighed by the domestication in the 
Church of a spirit so alien to the Lord's. It is diabolical, 
not divine ; the Gospel is profaned by contact with it ; 
the Church is prostituted when it serves as an arena 
for its exercise ; when it comes forward in the interest 

si. 7-29] FOOLISH BOASTING 335 

of righteousness, it is Satan fashioning himself into an 
angel of light. 

At this point Paul returns to the idea which has been 
in his mind since chap. x. 7 — the idea of boasting, or 
rather glorying. He does not like the thing itself, and 
just as little does he like the mask of a fool, under 
which he is to play the part : he is conscious that neither 
suits him. Hence he clears the ground once more, 
before he commits himself. " Again, I say, let no man 
think that I am foolish ; but if that favour cannot be 
granted, then even as a foolish person receive me, that 
I also may boast a little." There is a fine satirical 
reflection in the "also." If he does make a fool of 
himself by boasting, he is only doing what the others 
do, whom the Corinthians receive with open arms. But 
it strikes his conscience suddenly that there is a higher 
rule for the conduct of a Christian man than the example 
of his rivals, or the patience of his friends. The tender- 
ness of Paul's spirit comes out in the next words : "What 
I speak, I speak not after the Lord, but as in foolishness, 
in this confidence of glorying." The Lord never boasted ; 
nothing could be conceived less like Him, less after His 
mind ; and Paul will have it distinctly understood that 
His character is not compromised by any extravagance 
of which His servant may here make himself guilty. As 
a rule, the Apostle did speak " after the Lord " ; his 
habitual consciousness was that of one who had " the 
mind of Christ," and who felt that Christ's character 
was, in a sense, in his keeping. That ought to be the 
rule for all Christians ; we should never find ourselves 
in situations in which the Christian character, with all 
its responsibilities, affecting both ourselves and Him, 
cannot be maintained. With Christ and His interests 
removed from the scene, Paul at length feels himself 


free to measure himself against his rivals. "Since 
many glory after the flesh, I also will glory." The 
flesh means everything except the spirit. Where Christ 
and the Gospel are concerned, it is, according to Paul, 
an absolute irrelevance, a thing to be simply left out 
of account; but since they persist in dragging it in, 
he will meet them on their own ground. What that 
is, first comes out clearly in ver. 22 : but the Apostle 
delays again to urge his plea for tolerance. " Ye suffer 
the foolish gladly, being wise yourselves." It answers 
best to the vehemence of the whole passage to take 
the first clause here — " Ye suffer the foolish gladly " — 
as grim earnest, the reference being to the other 
boasters, Paul's rivals; and only the second clause 
ironically. Then ver. 20 would give the proof of this : 
"Ye bear with the foolish gladly for ye bear with 
a man if he enslaves you, if he devours you, if he takes 
you captive, if he exalts himself over you, if he strikes 
you on the face." We must suppose that this strong 
language describes the overbearing and violent be- 
haviour of the Judaists in Corinth. We do not need 
to take it literally, but neither may we suppose that 
Paul spoke at random : he is virtually contrasting his 
own conduct and that of the people in question, and 
the nature of the contrast must be on the whole 
correctly indicated. He himself had been accused of 
weakness ; and he frankly admits that, if comparison 
has to be made with a line of action like this, the 
accusation is just. " I speak by way of disparagement, 
as though we had been weak." This rendering of the 
Revised Version fairly conveys the meaning. It might 
be expressed in a paraphrase, as follows : " In saying 
what I have said of the behaviour of my rivals, I have 
been speaking to my own disparagement, the idea in- 

xi.7-29.] FOOLISH BOASTING 337 

volved 1 being that /" (notice the emphatic jj/uei?) "have 
been weak. Weak, no doubt, I was, if violent action 
like theirs is the true measure of strength : nevertheless, 
whereinsoever any is bold (I speak in foolishness), I 
am bold also. On whatever ground they claim to 
exercise such extraordinary powers, that ground I can 
maintain as well as they." 

Here, finally, the boasting does begin. "Are they 
Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. 
Are they the seed of Abraham ? so am I." This is 
the sum and substance of what is meant by their 
glorying after the flesh : they prided themselves on 
their birth, and claimed authority on the strength of 
it. They may have appealed, not only to the election 
of Israel as the Old Testament represents it, but to 
words of Jesus, like " Salvation is of the Jews." The 
three names for what is in reality one thing convey 
the impression of the immense importance which was 
assigned to it. " Hebrews " seems the least significant ; 
it is merely the national name, with whatever historical 
glories attached to it in Hebrew minds. " Israelites " is 
a sacred name ; it is identified with the prerogatives of 
the theocratic people : Paul himself, when his heart 
swells with patriotic emotion, begins the enumeration 
of the privileges belonging to his kinsmen after the 
flesh — " they, who are Israelites." " Seed of Abraham," 
again, is for the Apostle, and probably for these 
rivals of his, equivalent to " heirs of the promises " ; it 
describes the Jewish people as more directly and im- 
mediately interested — nay, as alone directly and imme- 
diately interested — in the salvation of God. No one 

1 This is the force of the in : it leaves it open whether the idea 
has reality answering to it or not. 



could read Rom. ix. 4f. without feeling that pride of 
race — pride in his people, and in their special relation 
to God and special place in the history of redemption — 
was among the strongest passions in the Apostle's 
heart ; and we can understand the indignation and 
scorn with which he regarded men who tracked him 
over Asia and Europe, assailed his authority, and 
sought to undermine his work, on the ground that he 
was faithless to the lawful prerogatives of Israel. 
There was not an Israelite in the world prouder of his 
birth, with a more magnificent sense of his country's 
glories, than the Apostle of the Gentiles : and it pro- 
voked him beyond endurance to see the things in which 
he gloried debased, as they were debased, by his rivals 
— made the symbols of a paltry vanity which he 
despised, made barriers to the universal love of God 
by which all the families of the earth were to be blessed. 
Driven to extremity, he could only outlaw such oppo- 
nents from the Christian community, and transfer the 
prerogatives of Israel to the Church. " We" he taught 
his Gentile converts to say — "we are the circumcision, 
who worship by the Spirit of God, and rejoice in Christ 
Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh " (Phil. iii. 3). 
Here he does not linger long over what is merely 
external. It is a deeper question that he asks in ver. 
23, " Are they ministers of Christ ? " and he feels like a 
man beside himself, clean out of his senses (prapa^povwv) 
— so unsuitable is the subject for boasting — as he 
answers, " I more." Many interpret this as if it meant, 
u I am more than a servant of Christ," and then ask 
wonderingly, " What more ? " but surely the natural 
meaning is, "I am a servant too, in a higher degree." 
The proof of this is given in that tale of sufferings 
which bursts irrepressibly from the Apostle's heart, 

xi.7-29.] FOOLISH BOASTING 339 

and sweeps us in its course like a torrent. If he 
thought of his rivals when he began, and was institut- 
ing a serious comparison when he wrote "in labours 
more abundantly [than they]," they must soon have 
escaped from his mind, it is his own life as a minister 
of Christ on which he dwells ; and after the first words, 
if a comparison is to be made, he leaves the making of 
it to others. But comparison, in fact, was out of the 
question : the sufferings of the Apostle in doing service 
to Christ were unparalleled and alone. The few lines 
which he devotes to them are the most vivid light we 
have on the apostolic age and the apostolic career. 
They show how fragmentary, or at all events how 
select, is the narrative in the Book of Acts. Thus of 
the incidents mentioned in ver. 25 we learn but little 
from St. Luke. Of the five times nine-and-thirty 
stripes, he mentions none ; of the three beatings with 
rods, only one ; of the three shipwrecks, none (for Acts 
xxvii. is later), and nothing of the twenty-four hours in 
the deep. It is not necessary to comment on details,, 
but one cannot resist the impression of triumph with 
which Paul recounts the " perils " he had faced ; so 
many they were, so various, and so terrible, yet in the 
Lord's service he has come safely through them all. 
It is a commentary from his own hand on his own 
word — " as dying, and, behold, we live 1 " In the 
retrospect all these perils show, not only that he is a 
true servant of Christ, entering into the fellowship of 
his Master's sufferings to bring blessing to men, but 
that he is owned by Christ as such : the Lord has 
delivered him from deaths so great; yes, and will 
deliver him ; and his hope is set on Him for every 
deliverance he may need (chap. i. 10). 

But, after all, these perils are but outward, and the 


very enumeration of them shows that they are things 
of the past. In all their kinds and degrees — violence, 
privation, exposure, fear — they are a historical testimony 
to the devotion with which Paul has served Christ. He 
bore in his body the marks which they had left, and 
to him they were the marks of Jesus ; they identified 
him as Christ's slave. But not to mention incidental 
matters, 1 there is another testimony to his ministry 
which is ever with him — a burden as crushing as these 
bodily sufferings, and far more constant in its pressure : 
" that which cometh upon me daily, anxiety for all the 
Churches." Short of this, anything of which man can 
boast may be, at least in a qualified sense, " after the 
flesh " ; but in this identification of himself with Christ's 
cause in the world — this bearing of others' burdens on 
his spirit — there is that fulfilment of Christ's law which 
alone and finally legitimates a Christian ministry. Nor 
was it merely in an official sense that Paul was interested 
in the affairs of the Church. When the Church is once 
planted in the world, it has a side which is of the world, 
a side which may be administered without a very heavy 
expenditure of Christian feeling : this, it is safe to say, 
is simply out of sight. Paul's anxiety for the Churches 
is defined in all its scope and intensity in the passionate 
words of the twenty-ninth verse : " Who is weak, and 
I am not weak ? Who is made to stumble, and I burn 
not ? " His love individualised Christian people, and 
made him one with them. There was no trembling 
timorous soul, no scrupulous conscience, in all the com- 
munities he had founded, whose timidity and weakness 
did not put a limit to his strength: he condescended 

1 This, which is the second alternative given in the margin of the 
Revised Version, seems to me the true meaning of x<"/>ls w wapeKr6t. 

xi.7-29-] FOOLISH BOASTING 341 

to their intelligence, feeding them with milk, and not 
with meat ; he measured his liberty, not in principle but 
in practice, by their bondage ; his heart thrilled with 
their fears ; in the fulness of his Christ-like strength he 
lived a hundred feeble lives. And when spiritual harm 
came to one of them — when the very least was made 
to stumble, and was caught in the snare of falsehood 
or sin — the pain in his heart was like burning fire. 
The sorrow that pierced the soul of Christ pierced 
his soul also ; the indignation that glowed in the 
Master's breast, as He pronounced woe on the man 
by whom occasions of stumbling come, glowed again 
in him. This is the fire that Christ came to cast on 
the earth, and that He longed to see kindled — this 
prompt intense sympathy with all that is of God in 
men's souls, this readiness to be weak with the weak, 
this pain and indignation when the selfishness or pride 
of men leads the weak astray, and imperils the work 
for which Christ died. And this is indeed the Apostle's 
last line of defence. Nowhere could boasting be less 
in place than when a man speaks of the lessons he has 
learned at the Cross : yet these only give him a title 
to glory as "a minister of Christ." If glorying here is 
inadmissible, it is because glorying in every sense is 
" folly." 



* If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things that concent 
my weakness. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, He who is 
blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not. In Damascus the 
governor under Aretas the king guarded the city of the Damascenes, 
in order to take me: and through a window was I let down in a 
basket by the wall, and escaped his hands. 

" I must needs glory, though it is not expedient ; but I will come 
to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ, 
fourteen years ago (whether in the body, I know not; or whether 
out of the body, I know not ; God knoweth), such a one caught up 
even to the third heaven. And I know such a man (whether in 
the body, or apart from the body, I know not ; God knoweth), how 
that he was caught up into Paradise, and heard unspeakable words, 
which it is not lawful for a man to utter. On behalf of such a one 
will I glory : but on mine own behalf I will not glory, save in my 
weaknesses. For if I should desire to glory, I shall not be foolish ; 
for I shall speak the truth : but I forbear, lest any man should 
account of me above that which he seeth me to be, or heareth from 
me. And by reason of the exceeding greatness of the revelations — 
wherefore, that I should not be exalted overmuch, there was given 
to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, that 
I should not be exalted overmuch. Concerning this thing I besought 
the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And He hath said 
unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee : for My power is made 
perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in 
my weaknesses, that the strength of Christ may rest upon me. 
Wherefore I take pleasure in weaknesses, in injuries, in necessities, 
in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake : for when I am weak, 
then am I strong." — 2 Cor. xi. 30-xii. 10 (R.V.). 

THE difficulties of exposition in this passage are 
partly connected with its form, partly with its 
substance : it will be convenient to dispose of the formal 


xi. 30-xii. 10.] STRENGTH AND WEAKNESS 343 

side first. The thirtieth verse of the eleventh chapter — 
" If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things that 
concern my weakness " — seems to serve two purposes. 
On the one hand, it is a natural and effective climax to 
all that precedes ; it defines the principle on which Paul 
has acted in the " glorying " of vv. 23-29. It is not of 
exploits that he is proud, but of perils and sufferings ; 
not of what he has achieved, but of what he has 
endured, for Christ's sake ; in a word, not of strength, 
but of weakness. On the other hand, this same thirtieth 
verse indubitably points forward ; it defines the principle 
on which Paul will always act where boasting is in 
view ; and it is expressly resumed in chap, xii., ver. 5 
and ver. 9. For this reason, it seems better to treat 
it as a text than as a peroration ; it is the key to the 
interpretation of what follows, put into our hands by 
the Apostle himself. In the full consciousness of its 
dangers and inconveniences, he means to go a little 
further in this foolish boasting ; but he takes security, 
as far as possible, against its moral perils, by choosing 
as the ground of boasting things which in the common 
judgment of men would only bring him shame. 

At this point we are startled by a sudden appeal to 
God, the solemnity and fulness of which strike us, on 
a first reading, as almost painfully gratuitous. " The 
God and Father of the Lord Jesus, He who is blessed 
for ever, knoweth that I lie not." What is the explana- 
tion of this extraordinary earnestness ? There is a 
similar passage in Gal. i. 19 — " Now touching the things 
which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not " 
—where Lightfoot says the strength of the Apostle's 
language is to be explained by the unscrupulous 
calumnies cast upon him by his enemies. This may 
be the clue to his vehemence here ; and in point of 


fact it falls in with by far the most ingenious explana- 
tion that has been given of the two subjects introduced 
in this paragraph. The explanation I refer to is that 
of Heinrici. He supposes that Paul's escape from 
Damascus, and his visions and revelations, had been 
turned to account against him by his rivals. They had 
used the escape to accuse him of ignominious cowardice : 
the indignity of it is obvious enough. His visions and 
revelations were as capable of misconstruction : it was 
easy to call them mere illusions, signs of a disordered 
brain ; it was not too much for malice to hint that his 
call to apostleship rested on nothing better than one 
of these ecstatic hallucinations. It is because things 
so dear to him are attacked — his reputation for personal 
courage, which is the mainstay of all the virtues; his 
actual vision of Christ, and divinely authorised mission 
— that he makes the vehement appeal that startles us 
at first. He calls God to witness that in regard to 
both these subjects he is going to tell the exact truth : 
the truth will be his sufficient defence. Ingenious as 
it is, I do not think this theory can be maintained. 
There is no hint in the passage that Paul is defending 
himself; he is glorying, and glorying in the things that 
concern his weakness. It seems more probable that, 
when he dictated the strong words of ver. 31, the out- 
line of all he was going to say was in his mind ; and as 
the main part of it — all about the visions and revelations 
— was absolutely uncontrollable by any witness but his 
own, he felt moved to attest it thus in advance. The 
names and attributes of God fall in well with this. As 
the visions and revelations were specially connected 
with Christ, and were counted by the Apostle among the 
things for which he had the deepest reason to praise 
God, it is but the reflection of this state of mind when 

xi.30-iii.10.] STRENGTH AND WEAKNESS 345 

he appeals to " the God and Father of the Lord Jesus, 
He who is blessed for evermore." This is not a random 
adjuration, but an appeal which takes shape involun- 
tarily in a grateful and pious heart, on which the 
memory of a signal grace and honour still rests. Of 
course the verses about Damascus stand rather out 
of relation to it. But it is a violence which nothing 
can justify to strike them out of the text on this ground, 
and along with them part or the whole of ver. 1 in 
chap, xii. 1 For many reasons unknown to us the 
danger in Damascus, and the escape from it, may have 
had a peculiar interest for the Apostle ; hcec per-* 
sequutio, says Calvin, erat quasi primum tirocinium 
Pauli) it was his " matriculation in the school of per- 
secution." He may have intended, as Meyer thinks, to 
make it the beginning of a new catalogue of sufferings 
for Christ's sake, all of which were to be covered by 
the appeal to God, and have abruptly repented, and 
gone off on another subject; but whether or not, to 
expunge the lines is pure wilfulness. The Apostle 
glories in what he endured at Damascus — in the 
imminent peril and in the undignified escape alike — as 
in things belonging to his weakness. Another might 
choose to hide such things, but they are precisely what 
he tells. In Christ's service scorn is glory, ignominy 
is honour; and it is the mark of loyalty when men 
rejoice that they are counted worthy to suffer shame 
for the Name. 8 

1 This is done by a number of critics, including Holsten and 

1 Godet gives the incident a peculiar turn, more ingenious than con- 
vincing. " No doubt the list I have given is one of mere infirmities. 
I might well boast of things apparently more glorious — as when the 
whole of that great city, Damascus, was raised against me, and I 
could only escape secretly." — Introduction au Nouv. Test., p. 393. 


When we go on to chap, xii., and the second of the 
two subjects with which boasting is to be associated, 
we meet in the first verse with serious textual diffi- 
culties. Our Authorised Version gives the rendering : "// 
is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to 
visions and revelations of the Lord." This follows the 
Textus Receptus : Kavx^o-Qat 8t) ov <rv/j,$>ipei fM)f 
iXevaofiai yap k.t.X., only omitting the yap (for I will 
come). The MSS. are almost chaotic, but the most 
authoritative editors — Tregelles, Tischendorf in his last 
edition, and Westcott and Hort — agree in reading 
KavyaaQai Set ov 1 <rv(/,cf)epov fiev eXeva-ofiat Be k.t.\. 
This is the text which our Revisers render : " / must 
needs glory, though it is not expedient; but I will come to 
visions and revelations of the Lord." Practically, the 
difference is not so great after all. According to the 
best authorities, Paul repeats that he is being forced to 
«peak as he does ; the consciousness of the disadvan- 
tages attendant on this course does not leave him, it 
is rather deepened, as he approaches the highest and 
most sacred of all subjects — visions and revelations 
he has received from Christ. Of these two words, 
revelations is the wider in import : visions were only 
one of the ways in which revelations could be made. 
Paul, of course, is not going to boast directly of the 
visions and revelations themselves. All through the 
experiences to which he alludes under this name he 
was to himself as a third person ; he was purely passive ; 
-and to claim credit, to glory as if he had done or 
originated anything, would be transparently absurd. 
But there are " things of his weakness " associated 
with, if not dependent on, these high experiences ; and 

1 In their margin Westcott and Hort read Si oi. 

xi 30-xii. 10.] STRENGTH AND WEAKNESS 347 

it is in them, after due explanation, that he purposes 
to exult. 

He begins abruptly. " I know a man in Christ, 
fourteen years ago (whether in the body, I know not ; 
or whether out of the body, I know not ; God knoweth), 
such a one caught up even to the third heaven." A 
man in Christ means a Christian man, a man in his 
character as a Christian. To St. Paul's consciousness 
the wonderful experience he is about to describe was 
not natural, still less pathological, but unequivocally 
religious. It did not befall him as a man simply, still 
less as an epileptic patient; it was an unmistakably 
Christian experience. He only existed for himself, 
during it, as "a man in Christ." "I know such a 
man," he says, " fourteen years ago caught up even to 
the third heaven." The date of this " rapture " (the 
same word is used in Acts viii. 39; I Thess. iv. 17; 
Rev. xii. 5 : all significant examples) would be about 
a.d. 44. This forbids us to connect it in any way with 
Paul's conversion, which must have been twenty years 
earlier than this letter ; and indeed there is no reason 
for identifying it with anything else we know of the 
Apostle. At the date in question, as far as can be 
made out from the Book of Acts, he must have been 
in Tarsus or in Antioch. The rapture itself is de- 
scribed as perfectly incomprehensible. He may have 
been carried up bodily to the heavenly places; his 
spirit may have been carried up, while his body 
remained unconscious upon earth : he can express no 
opinion about this ; the truth is only known to God. 
It is idle to exploit a passage like this in the interest 
of apostolic psychology ; Paul is only taking elaborate 
pains to tell us that of the mode of his rapture he was 
absolutely ignorant. It is fairer to infer that the event 


was unique in his experience, and that when it hap- 
pened he was alone ; had such things recurred, or had 
there been spectators, he could not have been in doubt 
as to whether he was caught up " in the body " or " out 
of the body." The mere fact that the date is given 
individualises the event in his life ; and it is going 
beyond the facts altogether to generalise it, and take 
it as the type of such an experience as accompanied 
his conversion, or of the visions in Acts xvi. 9, 
xxii. 17 f., xviii. 9. It was one, solitary, incomparable 
experience, including in it a complex of visions and 
revelations granted by Christ : it was this, at all events, 
to the Apostle ; and if we do not believe what he tells 
us about it, we can have no knowledge of it at all. 

" Caught up even to the third heaven." The Jews 
usually counted seven heavens ; sometimes, perhaps 
because of the dual form of the Hebrew word for 
heaven, two ; but the distinctions between the various 
heavens were as fanciful as the numbers were arbitrary. 
It adds nothing, even to the imagination, to speak of 
an aerial, a sidereal, and a spiritual heaven, and to 
suppose that these are meant by Paul ; we can only 
think vaguely of the " man in Christ " rising through 
one celestial region after another till he came even to 
the third. The word chosen to define the distance 
(etas) suggests that an impression of vast spaces 
traversed remained on the Apostle's mind ; and that 
the third heaven, on which his sentence pauses, and 
which is a resting-place for his memory, was also a 
station, so to speak, in his rapture. This is the only 
supposition which does justice to the resumption in 
ver. 3 of the deliberate and circumstantial language of 
ver. 2. " And I know such a man — whether in the 
body or apart from the body (I know not) God knoweth 

xi. 30-xii. 10.] STRENGTH AND WEAKNESS 349 

— how that he was caught up into Paradise, and heard 
unspeakable words that it is not lawful for a man to 
utter." This is a resumption, not a repetition. Paul 
is not elaborately telling the same story over again, 
but he is carrying it on, with the same full circum- 
stance, the same grave asseveration, from the point 
at which he halted. The rapture had a second stage, 
under the same incomprehensible conditions, and in it 
the Christian man passed out and up from the third 
heaven into Paradise. Many of the Jews believed in 
a Paradise beneath the earth, the abode of the souls 
of the good while they awaited their perfecting at 
the Resurrection (cf. Luke xvi. 23 ff., xxiii. 43) ; but 
obviously this cannot be the idea here. We must 
think rather of what the Apocalypse calls " the Para- 
dise of God " (ii. 7), where the tree of life grows, 
and where those who overcome have their reward. 
It is an abode of unimaginable blessedness, " far above 
all heavens," to use the Apostle's own words elsewhere 
(Eph. iv. 10). What visions he had, or what revela- 
tions, during that pause in the third heaven, Paul does 
not say; and at this supreme point of his rapture, 
in Paradise, the words he heard were words un- 
speakable, which it is not lawful for man to utter. 
Mortal ears might hear, but mortal lips might not 
repeat, sounds so mysterious and divine : it was not 
for man (avOpdoirp is qualitative) to utter them. 

But why, we may ask, if this rapture has its mean- 
ing and value solely for the Apostle, should he refer 
to it here at all ? Why should he make such solemn 
statements about an experience, the historical conditions 
of which, as he is careful to assure us, are incompre- 
hensible, while its spiritual content is a secret ? Is 
not such an experience literally nothing to us ? No, 


unless Paul himself is nothing ; for this experience was 
evidently a great thing to him. It was the most sacred 
privilege and honour he had ever known ; it was 
among his strongest sources of inspiration ; it had 
a powerful tendency to generate spiritual pride ; and 
it had its accompaniment, and its counter-weight, in 
his sharpest trial. The world knows little of its 
greatest men ; perhaps we very rarely know what are 
the great things in the lives even of the people who 
are round about us. Paul had kept silence about this 
sublime experience for fourteen years, and no man had 
ever guessed it ; it had been a secret between the Lord 
and His disciple ; and they only, who were in the 
secret, could rightly interpret all that depended upon 
it. There is a kind of profanity in forcing the heart to 
show itself too far, in compelling a man to speak about,, 
even though he does not divulge, the things that it is 
not lawful to utter. The Corinthians had put thi& 
profane compulsion on the Apostle ; but though he 
yields to it, it is in a way which keeps clear of the 
profanity. He tells what he dare tell in the third 
person, and then goes on : " On behalf of such a one 
will I glory, but on behalf of myself will I not glory, 
save in my infirmities." Retnovere debemus to ego a 
rebus magnis (Bengel) : there are things too great to 
allow the intrusion of self. Paul does not choose to 
identify the poor Apostle whom the Corinthians and 
their misleading teachers used so badly with the man 
in Christ who had such inconceivable honour put on 
him by the Lord ; if he does boast on behalf of such a 
one, and magnify his sublime experiences, at all events 
he does not transfer his prerogatives to himself', he 
does not say, " / am that incomparably honoured man ; 
reverence in me a special favourite of Christ." On the 

xi. 30-xii. 10.] STRENGTH AND WEAKNESS 351 

contrary, where his own interest has to be forwarded, 
he will glory in nothing but his weaknesses. The one 
thing about which he is anxious is that men should 
not think too highly of him, nor go in their apprecia- 
tion beyond what their experience of him as a man 
and a teacher justifies (ver. 6). He might, indeed, 
boast, reasonably enough ; for the truth would suffice, 
without any foolish exaggeration ; but he forbears, for 
the reason just stated. We are familiar with the 
danger of thinking too highly of ourselves ; it is as 
real a danger, though probably a less considered one, 
to be too highly thought of by others. Paul dreaded 
it; so does every wise man. To be highly thought 
of, where the character is sincere and unpretentious, 
may be a protection, and even an inspiration ; but to 
have a reputation, morally, that one does not deserve — 
to be counted good in respects in which one is really 
bad — is to have a frightful difficulty added to penitence 
and amendment. It puts one in a radically false 
position ; it generates and fosters hypocrisy ; it ex- 
plains a vast mass of spiritual ineffectiveness. The 
man who is insincere enough to be puffed up by it is 
not far from judgment. 

But to return to the text. Paul wishes to be humble ; 
he is content that men should take him as they find 
him, infirmities and all. He has that about him, too, 
and not unconnected with these high experiences, the 
very purpose of which is to keep him humble. If the 
text is correct, 1 he expresses himself with some embar- 
rassment. " And by reason of the exceeding greatness 
of the revelations — wherefore, that I should not be 

1 The editors vary greatly in punctuation, especially as they do or 
do not insert 5id before the first ha yA) Westcott and 
Hort suspect some primitive error. 


exalted overmuch, there was given to me a thorn in 
the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, that 
I should not be exalted overmuch." The repetition 
of the last word shows where the emphasis lies : Paul 
has a deep and constant sense of the danger of spiritual 
pride, and he knows that he would fall into i£ unless 
a strong counter-pressure were kept up upon him. 

I do not feel called on to add another to the number 
less disquisitions on Paul's thorn in the flesh. The 
resources of imagination having been exhausted, people 
are returning to the obvious. The thorn in the flesh 1 
was something painful, which affected the Apostle's 
body ; it was something in its nature purely physical, 
not a solicitation to any kind of sin, such as sensuality 
or pride, else he would not have ceased to pray for 
its removal ; it was something terribly humbling, if 
not humiliating — an affection which might well have 
excited the contempt and loathing of those who beheld 
it (Gal. iv. 14, which probably refers to this subject) ; 
it had begun after, if not in consequence of, the rapture 
just described, and stood in a spiritual, if not a physical, 
relation to it ; it was, if not chronic or periodic, at 
least recurrent ; the Apostle knew that it would never 
leave him. What known malady, incident to human 
nature, fulfils all these conditions, it is not possible 
with perfect certainty to say. A considerable mass 
of competent opinion supports the idea that it must 
have been liability to epileptic seizures. 2 Such an 

1 For the meaning " thorn," not " stake " or " cross," see Ezek. 
xxviii. 24 ; Hosea ii. 8 (6) ; Num. xxxiii. 55. 

1 I should lay no stress here on what some so much insist upon — 
the use of l£eirr4<ra.Te in Gal. iv. 14, and the fact that morbus despui 
sue/us is a name for epilepsy : iKirrtieiv does not mean despuere, and 
after i%ovOeveiv it is necessarily metaphorical. 

xi. 30-xii. 10.] STRENGTH AND WEAKNESS 353 

infirmity Paul might have suffered under in common 
with men so great as Julius Caesar and the first 
Napoleon, as Mahomet, King Alfred, and Peter the 
Great. But it does not quite satisfy the conditions. 
Epileptic attacks, if they occur with any frequency 
at all, invariably cause mental deterioration. Now, 
Paul distinctly suggests that the thorn was a very 
steady companion ; and as his mind, in spite of it, 
grew year after year in the apprehension of the Chris- 
tian revelation, so that his last thoughts are always his 
largest and best, the epileptic hypothesis has its diffi- 
culties like every other. Is it likely that a man who 
suffered pretty constantly from nervous convulsions of 
this kind wrote the Second Epistle to the Corinthians 
after fourteen years of them, or the Epistles to the 
Romans, Philippians, Colossians, and Ephesians later 
still? There is, of course, no religious interest in 
affirming or denying any physical explanation of 
the matter whatever; but with our present data I 
do not think a certain explanation is within our 

The Apostle himself is not interested in it as a 
physical affection. He speaks of it because of its 
spiritual significance, and because of the wonderful 
spiritual experiences he has had in connexion with it. 
It was given him, he says : but by whom ? When 
we think of the purpose — to save him from spiritual 
pride — we instinctively answer, " God." And that, it can 
hardly be doubted, would have been the Apostle's own 
answer. Yet he does not hesitate to call it in the same 
breath a messenger of Satan. The name is dictated 
by the inborn, ineradicable shrinking of the soul from 
pain ; that agonising, humiliating, annihilating thing, 
we feel at the bottom of our hearts, is not really of 



God, even when it does His work. In His perfect 
world pain shall be no more. It does not need science, 
but experience, to put these things together, and to 
understand at once the evil and the good of suffering. 
Paul, at first, like all men, found the evil overpowering. 
The pain, the weakness, the degradation of his malady, 
were intolerable. He could not understand that only 
a pressure so pitiless and humbling could preserve him 
from spiritual pride and a spiritual fall. We are all 
slow to learn anything like this. We think we can 
take warning, that a word will be enough, that at most 
the memory of a single pang will suffice to keep us 
safe. But pains remain with us, and the pressure is 
continuous and unrelieved, because the need of con- 
straint and of discipline is ceaseless. The crooked 
branch will not bend in a new curve if it is only 
tied to it for half an hour. The sinful bias in our 
natures — to pride, to sensuality, to falsehood, or what- 
ever else — will not be cured by one sharp lesson. The 
commonest experience in human life is that the man 
whom sickness and pain have humbled for the moment, 
the very moment their constraint is lifted, resumes his 
old habit. He does not think so, but it is really the 
horn that has been keeping him right ; and when its 
snarpness is blunted, the edge is taken from his con- 
science too. 

Paul besought the Lord, that is Christ, thrice, that 
this thing might depart from him. The Lord, we may 
be sure, had full sympathy with that prayer. He 
Himself had had His agony, and prayed the Father 
thrice that if it were possible the cup of pain might 
pass from Him. He prayed, indeed, in express sub- 
mission to the Father's will; the voice of nature was 
not allowed in Him to urge an unconditional peremptory 

xi. 30-xii. 10.] STRENGTH AND WEAKNESS 355 

request. Perhaps in Paul on this occasion — certainly 
often in most men — it is nature, the flesh and not the 
spirit, which prompts the prayer. But God is all the 
while guarding the spirit's interest as the higher, and 
this explains the many real answers to prayer which 
seem to be refusals. A refusal is an answer, if it is 
so given that God and the soul thenceforth understand 
one another. It was thus that Paul was answered 
by Christ : " He hath said to me, My grace is suffi- 
cient for thee: for [My] strength is made perfect in 

The first point to notice in this answer is the tense 
of the verb : " He hath said." The A.V with " He 
said " misses the point. The sentence is present as 
well as past; it is Christ's continuous, as well as 
final, answer to Paul's prayer. The Apostle has been 
made to understand that the thorn must remain in 
his flesh, but along with this he has received the 
assurance of an abiding love and help from the Lord. 
We remember, even by contrast, the stern answer 
made to Moses when he prayed that he might be 
permitted to cross Jordan and see the goodly land — 
" Let it suffice thee : speak no more unto Me of this 
matter." Paul also could no more ask for the removal 
of the thorn : it was the Lord's will that he should 
submit to it for high spiritual ends, and to pray against 
it would now have been a kind of impiety. But it is 
no longer an unrelieved pain and humiliation ; the 
Apostle is supported under it by that grace of Christ 
which finds in the need and abjectness of men the 
opportunity of showing in all perfection its own con- 
descending strength. The collocation of " grace " and 
"strength" in the ninth verse is characteristic of the 
New Testament, and very significant. There are many 


to whom " grace " is a holy word with no particular 
meaning; " the grace of God," or " the grace of the Lord 
Jesus Christ," is only a vague benignity, which may 
fairly enough be spoken of as a " smile." But grace, in 
the New Testament, is force : it is a heavenly strength 
bestowed on men for timely succour ; it finds its oppor- 
tunity in our extremity ; when our weakness makes us 
incapable of doing anything, it gets full scope to work. 
This is the meaning of the last words — " strength is made 
perfect in weakness." The truth is quite general ; it 
is an application of it to the case in hand if we translate 
as in the A.V. (with some MSS.) : " My strength is made 
perfect in [thy] weakness." It is enough, the Lord tells 
Paul, that he has this heavenly strength unceasingly 
bestowed upon him ; the weakness which he has found 
so hard to bear — that distressing malady which humbled 
him and took his vigour away — is but the foil to it : 
it serves to magnify it, and to set it off; with that Paul 
should be content. 

And he is content. That answer to his thrice- 
repeated prayer works a revolution in his heart ; he 
looks at all that had troubled him — at all that he had 
deprecated — with new eyes. " Most gladly therefore 
will I rather glory in my infirmities — that is, glory 
rather than bemoan them or pray for their removal — 
that the power of Christ may spread its tabernacle over 
me." This compensation far outweighed the trial. He 
has ceased to speak now of the visions and revelations, 
perhaps he has ceased already to think of them ; he 
is conscious only of the weakness and suffering from 
which he is never to escape, and of the grace of Christ 
which hovers over him, and out of weakness and 
suffering makes him strong. His very infirmities 
redound to the glory of the Lord, and so he chooses 

xi. 30-xii. 10.] STRENGTH AND WEAKNESS 357 

them, rather than his rapture into Paradise, as matter 
for boasting. " For this cause I am well content, on 
Christ's behalf, 1 in infirmities, in insults, in necessities, 
in persecutions and distresses; for when I am weak, 
then am I strong." 

With this noble word Paul concludes his enforced 
" glorying." He was not happy in it ; it was not like 
him ; and it is a triumph of the Spirit of Christ in him 
that he gives it such a noble turn, and comes out of 
it so well. There is a tinge of irony in the first 
passage (chap. xi. 21) in which he speaks of weakness, 
and fears that in comparison with his high-handed 
rivals at Corinth he will only have this to boast about ; 
but as he enters into his real experience, and tells us 
what he had borne for Christ, and what he had learned 
in pain and prayer about the laws of the spiritual life, 
all irony passes away; the pure heroic heart opens 
before us to its depths. The practical lessons of the 
last paragraphs are as obvious as they are important. 
That the greatest spiritual experiences are incommunic- 
able ; that even the best men are in danger of elation 
and pride ; that the tendency of these sins is immensely 
strong, and can only be restrained by constant pressure ; 
that pain, though one day to be abolished, is a means 
of discipline actually used by God ; that it may be a 
plain duty to accept some suffering, or sickness, even 
a humbling and distressing one, as God's will for 
our good, and not to pray more for its removal ; that 
God's grace is given to those who so accept His will, 
as a real reinforcement of their strength, nay, as a sub- 
stitute, and far more, for the strength which they have 

1 Construe iirip X/HoroO with eitioicQ. 


not; that weakness, therefore, and helplessness, as 
foils to the present help of God, may actually be 
occasions of glorying to the Christian, — all these, and 
many more, are gathered up in this passionate Apologia 
of PauL 



"I am become foolish : ye compelled me ; for I ought to have been, 
commended of you : for in nothing was I behind the very chiefest 
apostles, though I am nothing. Truly the signs of an apostle were 
wrought among you in all patience, by signs and wonders and 
mighty works. For what is there wherein ye were made inferior to 
the rest of the Churches, except it be that I myself was not a burden 
to you ? forgive me this wrong. 

" Behold, this is the third time I am ready to come to you ; and I 
will not be a burden to you : for I seek not yours, but you : for the 
children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the 
children. And I will most gladly spend and be spent for your 
souls. If I love you more abundantly, am I loved the less ? But 
be it so, I did not myself burden you ; but, being crafty, I caught 
you with guile. Did I take advantage of you by any one of them 
whom I have sent unto you ? I exhorted Titus, and I sent the 
brother with him. Did Titus take any advantage of you ? walked 
we not by the same Spirit ? walked we not in the same steps ? 

" Ye think all this time that we are excusing ourselves unto you. In 
the sight of God speak we in Christ. But all things, beloved, are for 
your edifying. For I fear, lest by any means, when I come, I should 
find you not such as I would, and should myself be found of you such 
as ye would not ; lest by any means there should be strife, jealousy 
wraths, factions, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults ; le&t. 
when I come again, my God should humble me before you, and I 
should mourn for many of them that have sinned heretofore, and 
repented not of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness 
which they committed." — 2 Cor. xii. 11-21 (R.V.). 

EXPOSITORS differ widely in characterising the 
three or four brief paragraphs into which this 
passage may be divided : (1) vv. 11-13 ; (2) w. 14, 15, 
and vv. 16-18; (3) vv. 19-21. What is clear is, that 



we feel in it the ground-swell of the storm that has 
raged through the last two chapters, and that it is rot 
till the beginning of chap. xiii. that the Apostle finally 
escapes from this, and takes up an authoritative and 
decisive attitude to the Corinthians. When he does 
reach Corinth, it will not be to explain and justify 
his own conduct, either against rivals or those whom 
rivals have misled, but to take prompt and vigorous 
action against disorders in the life of the Church. 

(i) A review of what he has just written leads to 
a burst of indignant remonstrance. " I have become 
foolish." The emphasis is on the verb, not on the 
adjective ; it is the painful fact that the eleventh chapter 
of Second Corinthians is a thing that no wise man 
would have written if he had been left to himself and 
his wisdom. Paul, who was a wise man, felt this, and 
it stung him. He resented the compulsion which was 
put upon him by the ingratitude and faithlessness of 
the Corinthians. The situation ought to have been 
exactly reversed. When he was defamed by strangers, 
then they, who knew him, instead of hearkening to the 
calumniators, ought to have stood up in his defence. 
But they basely left him to defend himself, to plead his 
own cause, to become a fool by " glorying." This kind 
of compulsion should never be put upon a good man, 
especially a man to whom, under God, we ourselves 
have been deeply indebted. The services he has 
rendered constitute a claim on our loyalty, and it is 
a duty of affection to guard his character against dis- 
paragement and malice. 

Paul, in his deep consciousness of being wronged, 
presses home the charge against the Corinthians. 
They had every reason, he tells them, to act as his 
advocates. When he was among them, he was in 

xii. 11-21.] NOT YOURS, BUT YOU 361 

nothing inferior to the " superlative " Apostles — this is 
his last flout at the Judaist interlopers— nothing though 
he was. The signs that prove a man to be an apostle 
were wrought among them (the passive expression 
keeps his agency in the background) in all patience, 
by signs and wonders and mighty deeds. Their suspi- 
cions of him, their willingness to listen to insinuations 
against him, after such an experience, were unpardon- 
able. He can only think of one " sign of the apostle " 
which was not wrought among them by his means, of 
one point in which he had made them inferior to the 
other Churches : he had not burdened them with his 
support. They were the spoilt children of the apos- 
tolic family ; and he begs them, with bitter irony, to 
forgive him this wrong. If they had only been con- 
verted by a man who stood upon his rights ! l 

" The signs of an apostle " are frequently referred to 
in Paul's Epistles, and are of various kinds. By far the 
most important, and the most frequently insisted on, is 
success in evangelistic work. He who converts men 
and founds Churches has the supreme and final attesta- 
tion of apostleship, as Paul conceives it. It is to this 
he appeals in 1 Cor. ix. 2; 2 Cor. iii. 1-3. In the 
passage before us Calvin makes " patience " a sign — 
primum si'gnum nominal patientiam. Patience is cer- 
tainly a characteristic Christian virtue, and it is magni- 

1 Ai!t6s fyti in ver. 13 has a peculiar emphasis, not easily explained. 
It cannot mean "/ did not, though my assistants did," for this is 
denied in ver. 18. Neither can it mean "/ did not, though the 
Judaists did," for whatever is opposed to airbt iy<i> must nevertheless 
be conceived here as belonging to the same category, which the 
Judaists did not. Possibly it only separates the person expressly 
from his works, just recited, and has the same sort of value as in 
Rom. ix. 3, where it emphasises the person as opposed to the heart 
and conscience. 


ficently exercised in the apostolic life ; but it is not 
peculiarly apostolic. Patience in the passage before 
us, "every kind of patience," rather brings before 
our minds the conditions under which Paul did his 
apostolic work. Discouragements of every descrip- 
tion, bad health, suspicion, dislike, contempt, moral 
apathy and moral licence — the weight of all these pressed 
upon him heavily, but he bore up under them, and did 
not suffer them to break his spirit or to arrest his 
labours. His endurance was a match for them all, 
and the power of Christ that was in him broke forth 
in spite of them in apostolic signs. There were con- 
versions, in the first place ; but there were also what he 
calls here "signs [in a narrower sense], and wonders, and 
mighty deeds." This is an express claim, like that made 
in Acts xv. 12, Rom. xv. 19, to have wrought what we 
call miracles. The three words represent miracles under 
three different aspects : they are " signs " (a^fiela), as 
addressed to man's intelligence, and conveying a spiritual 
meaning ; they are " wonders " (ripaTo), as giving a 
shock to feeling, and moving nature in those depths 
which sleep through common experience ; and they are 
" mighty works " or " powers " (Suvdfiew), as arguing in 
him who works them a more than human efficiency. 
But no doubt the main character they bore in the 
Apostle's mind was that of ^apia-fiara, or gifts of grace, 
which God ministered to the Church by His Spirit. It 
is natural for an unbeliever to misunderstand even New 
Testament miracles, because he wishes to conceive 
them, as it were, in vacuo, or in relation to the laws of 
nature ; in the New Testament itself they are conceived 
in relation to the Holy Ghost. Even Jesus is said in 
the Gospels to have cast out devils by the Spirit of 
God; and when Paul wrought "signs and wonders 

xii. n-ai.] NOT YOURS, BUT YOU 363 

and powers," it was in carrying out his apostolic work 
graced by the same Spirit. What things he had done 
in Corinth we have no means of knowing, but the 
Corinthians knew; and they knew that these things 
had no arbitrary or accidental character, but were the 
tokens of a Christian and an apostle. 

(2) In the second paragraph Paul turns abruptly 
(IBov, " behold ! ") from the past to the future. " This 
is the third time I am ready to come to you, and I 
will not burden you." The first clause has the same 
ambiguity in Greek as in English ; it is impossible to 
tell from the words alone whether he had been already 
twice, or only once, in Corinth. Other considerations 
decide, I think, that he had been twice ; but of course 
these cannot affect the construction of this verse : for 
the third time he is in a state of readiness — this is all 
the words will yield. But when he makes the new 
visit, whether it be his third or only his second, one 
thing he has decided : he will act on the same principle 
•as before, and decline to be a burden to them. He 
does not speak of it boastfully now, as in chap. xi. 10, 
for his adversaries have passed out of view, but in one 
of the most movingly tender passages in the whole 
Bible. " I will not lie on you like a benumbing weight, 
for I seek not yours, but you." It is not his own 
interest which brings him to Corinth again, but theirs ; 
it is not avarice which impels him, but love. In a 
sense, indeed, love makes the greater claim of the two ; 
it is far more to demand the heart than to ask for 
money. Yet the greater claim is the less selfish, indeed 
is the purely unselfish one ; for it can only be really 
made by one who gives all that he demands. Paul's 
own heart was pledged to the Corinthians ; and when 
he said " I seek you," he did not mean that he sought 


to make a party of them, or a faction, in the interest 
of his own ambition, but that the one thing he cared 
for was the good of their souls. Nor in saying so does 
he claim to be doing anything unusual or extraordinary. 
It is only what becomes him as their father in Christ 
(i Cor. iv. 15). "I seek you ; for the children ought 
not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the 
children." Filial duty, of course, is not denied here ; 
Paul is simply bringing himself as the spiritual father 
of the Corinthians under the general rule of nature 
that " love descends rather than ascends." If this 
seems a hard saying to a child's heart, it is at least 
true that it descends before it ascends. It all begins 
from God : in a family, it all begins from the parents. 
The primary duty of love is parental care ; and nothing 
is more unnatural, though at a certain level it is 
common enough, than the desire of parents to make 
money out of their children as quickly and as plentifully 
as possible, without considering the ulterior interests 
of the children themselves. This kind of selfishness 
is very transparent, and is very naturally avenged by 
ingratitude, and the Apostle for his part renounces it. 
"I," he exclaims, with all the emphasis in his power — 
"/have more than a natural father's love for you. I 
will with all gladness spend, yes, and be spent to the 
uttermost, for your souls 1 I will give what I have, 
yes, and all that I am, that you may be profited." 
And then he checks that rush of affection, and dams 
up the overflowing passion of his heart in the abrupt 
poignant question : " If I love you more abundantly, 
am I loved less ? " * 

1 This is the reading of our Revisers, and of Westcott and Hort's 
text. In their margin they read : " I will very gladly spend, etc., if 
loving you [ir/afdv instead of &.ya.iru>] more abundantly I am loved 

xii.n-21.] NOT YOURS, BUT YOU 365 

This is not the first passage in the Epistle, nor, near 
as we are to the end, is it the last, in which Paul shows 
us the true spirit of the Christian pastor. " Not yours, 
but you," is the motto of every minister who has learned 
of Christ; and the noble words of ver. 15, "I will 
very gladly spend and be spent to the last for your 
souls," recall more nearly than any other words in 
Scripture the law by which our Lord Himself lived — 
not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give 
life a ransom for many. Here, surely, is a sign of 
apostleship — an unmistakable mark of the man who is 
specially called to continue Christ's work. That work 
cannot be done at all except in the spirit of Him who 
inaugurated it, and though love like Paul's, and love 
like Christ's, may be mocked and trampled on, it is the 
only power which has the right to speak in Christ's 
name. The joy of sacrifice thrills through the Apostle's 
words, and it is joy in the Holy Ghost ; it is a fellow- 
ship with Christ in the very life of His life that lifts 
Paul, for the moment, to the heavenly places. This is 
the spirit in which wrong is to be met, and suspicion, 
calumny, and contempt ; it is in this, if at all, that we 
can be more than conquerors. Nature says, " Stand 
upon your rights ; vindicate your position ; insist on 
having all that you conceive to be your due " ; but love 

the less." This reading and punctuation are adopted by a number 
of scholars, but explained in two ways: — (1) As in the Authorised 
Version, "though the more abundantly," etc. But el ("if"), which is 
the true reading (not tl /cat), cannot be translated " though." (2) By 
others it is rendered, " I will very gladly spend, etc., if the more 
abundantly I love you the less I am loved " : that is, " if things have 
come to such a pass between us that the natural relations are utterly 
inverted, I will make any sacrifice to restore them to a better footing." 
This is insipid and flat to the last degree : textual and psychological 
considerations combine to support the Revisers' text. 


says, "Spend and be spent, and spare not till all is 
gone ; life itself is not too much to give that love may 
triumph over wrong." 

It is not possible to write long as Paul writes in 
these two verses (14 and 15). The tension is too great 
both for him and for his readers. With ecro) Be — 
" But be it so " — he descends from this height. He 
writes in the first person, but he is plainly repeating 
what he assumes others will say. " Very well, then, let 
that pass," is the answer of his enemies to his friends 
when that passionate protestation is read. " He did not 
himself prove burdensome to us, but being crafty he 
brought us into his net by guile. He exploited the 
Church in his own interest by means of his agents." 
This charge the Apostle meets with a downright 
denial ; he can appeal to the knowledge which the 
Corinthians themselves possess of the manner in which 
his agents have conducted themselves. He had no 
doubt had occasion, far oftener than we know, to com- 
municate with so important and so restless a Church ; 
and he challenges the Corinthians to say that a single 
one of those whom he had sent had taken advantage 
of them. He instances — perhaps as the last of his 
deputies, who had but just returned from Corinth when 
he wrote this letter ; perhaps as the one on whom 
scandal had chosen to fasten — his "partner" and 
" fellow-labourer toward them," Titus ; and he refers to 
an unknown brother who had accompanied him. They 
cannot mean to say (jj,tJti) that Titus took advantage 
of them ? " Walked we not in the same Spirit ? " A 
modern reader naturally makes " spirit " subjective, 
and takes it as equivalent to " the same moral temper 
or principle " ; an early Christian reader would more 
probably think of the Holy Spirit as that which 

xii.ll-2i.j NOT YOURS, BUT YOU 367 

ruled in Paul and Titus alike. In any case the same 
Spirit led to the same conduct ; they walked in the 
same self-denying path, and scrupulously abstained; 
from burdening the Corinthians for their support. 

(3) We feel the meanness of all this, and are glad^ 
when the Apostle finally turns his back on it. It is an. 
indignity to be compelled even to allude to such things. 
And the worst is, that no care a man can take will 
prevent people from misunderstanding his indignant 
protest, and from assuming that he is really on his 
trial before them, and not improbably compromised. 
Paul's mind is made up to leave the Corinthians no 
excuse for such misunderstanding and presumption. 
In ver. 19 he reads their ignoble thought : " Ye have 
long 1 been thinking" — i.e., all through the last two 
chapters, and, indeed, more or less all through the 
Epistle ; see chap. iii. I — " that we are making our 
defence at your bar. Far from it : at God's bar we 
speak in Christ." He will not endure, with his visit 
to Corinth close at hand, that there should be any 
misapprehension as to their relations. His responsi- 
bility as a Christian man is not to them, but to God ; 
He is the Master to whom he stands or falls; it is 
He alone to whom he has to vindicate his life. The 
Corinthians had been seating themselves in imagination 
on the tribunal, and they are summarily set on the 
floor. But Paul does not wish to be rude or unkind. 
" You are not my judges, certainly," he seems to say, 
" but all I have said and done, beloved, all I say and 
do, is for your building up in Christian life. My heart 
is with you in it all, and I sincerely intend your good." 

1 IldXai is the true reading, not wd\iv. Westcott and Hort retain, 
the interrogation. 


We cannot sufficiently admire the combination in the 
Apostle, or rather the swift alternation, of all those 
intellectual and emotional qualities that balance each 
other in a strong living character. He can be at once 
trenchant and tender ; inexorable in the maintenance 
of a principle, nnd infinitely sympathetic and considerate 
in his treatment of persons. We see all his qualities 
illustrated here. 

Their edification is the governing thought on which 
the last verses of the chapter turn, and on which 
eventually the whole Epistle rests (see chap. xiii. 10). 
It is because he is interested in their edification that 
he thinks with misgiving of the journey in prospect. 
" I fear lest by any means when I come I find you 
not such as I would, and on my part be found of you 
not such as ye would." What these two fears imply 
is unfolded in due order in the remainder of the letter. 
The Corinthians, such as Paul would not have them, 
are depicted in vv. 20 and 21 ; Paul, in a character 
in which the Corinthians would prefer not to see him, 
comes forward in chap, xiii., vv. 1-10. It is with the 
first only of these two fears, the bad condition of the 
Corinthian Church, that we are here concerned. This 
first fear has two grounds. The first is the prevalence 
of sins which may perhaps be summarised as sins 
of self-will. Strife, jealousy, passions, factions and 
low factious arts, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, 
tumults : such is the catalogue. It illustrates what has 
been well described as "the carnality of religious con- 
tention." Almost all the sins here enumerated are 
directly connected with the existence of parties and 
party feeling in the Church. They are of a kind 
which has disgraced the Church all through its history, 
and the exceeding sinfulness of which is not yet recog- 

xii. u-21.] NOT YOURS, BUT YOU 369 

nised by the great mass of professing Christians. 
People do not consider that the Church, as a visible 
society, more or less naturalised in the world, is as 
capable as any other society of offering a career to 
ambition, or of furnishing a theatre for the talents 
and the energies of self-seeking men ; and they have 
a vague idea that the wilfulness, the intriguing and 
factious arts, the jealousy and conceit of men, are better 
things when put to the service of the Church than 
when employed in mere selfishness. But they are 
not. They are the very same, and they are peculiarly 
odious when enlisted in His service who was meek and 
lowly in heart, and who gave Himself for men. Paul's 
first list of sins is only too life-like, and the fear 
grounded on it is one which many a modern minister 
can share. The second list is made up of what might 
be called, in contrast with sins of self-will, sins of 
self-indulgence — " uncleanness, fornication, and lascivi- 
ousness that they wrought." Both together make up 
what the Apostle calls the works of the flesh. Both 
together are the direct opposite of those fruits of the 
spirit in which the true life of the Church consists. 
Paul writes as if he were more alarmed about the 
sins of the latter class. He puts firj (" lest ") instead of 
/x?;7rco? (" lest by any means " : ver. 20), marking thus 
the climax, and something like the certainty, 1 of his sad 
apprehension. "I fear," he says, "lest when I come 
again my God should humble me before you " — or, per- 
haps "in connexion with you." Nothing could more 
bow down a true and loving heart like Paul's than to 

1 This is also suggested by the reading ratrtivdiaei, which Tischendorf 
adopts in ver. 21, with B, D, E, F, etc. N, A, K, followed by Westcott 
and Hort, have Taireirdxfg. 



see a Church that he had regarded as the seal of his 
apostleship— a congregation of men "washed, sancti- 
fied, and justified" — wallowing again in the mire of 
sensual sins. He had been proud of them, had boasted 
of them, had given thanks to God on their behalf : how 
it must have crushed him to think that his labour on 
them had come to this ! Yet he writes instinctively 
■" my God." This humiliation does not come to him 
without his Father; there is a divine dispensation in 
it, as far as he is concerned, and he submits to it as 
such. He dare not think of it as a personal insult ; he 
dare not think of the sinners as if they had offended 
against him. He fears he will have to mourn over 
numbers of those who have before sinned, and who will 
not have repented 1 of these sensualities before he reaches 
Corinth. In chap. v. 2 of the First Epistle he sums up 
his condemnation of the moral laxity of the Church in 
the presence of such evils in the words : Ye did not 
mourn. He himself will not be able to avoid mourning : 
his heart grows heavy within him as he thinks of what 
he must see before long. This, again, is the spirit of 
the true pastor. Selfish anger has nothing healing in 
it, nor has wounded pride ; it is not for any man, how- 
ever good or devoted, to feel that he is entitled to resent 
it, as a personal wrong, when men fall into sin. He is 
not entitled to resent it, no matter how much he may 
have spent, or how freely he may have spent himself, 
upon them ; but he is bound to bewail it. He is bound 
to recognise in it, so far as he himself is free from re- 
sponsibility, a dispensation of God intended to make 
him humble ; and in all humility and love he is bound 

1 It is more natural to construe M rj} bK.a8a.polq. k.t.X. with pera- 
vnijtr&rruiv than with TevB-fiata. 

xii. n-21.] NOT YOURS, BUT YOU 371 

to plead with the lapsed, not his own cause, but God's. 
This is the spirit in which Paul confronts the sad duties 
awaiting him at Corinth, and in this again we see " the 
signs of the apostle." 

The two catalogues of sins with which this chapter 
closes remind us, by way of contrast, of the two 
characteristic graces of Christianity : self-will or party 
spirit, in all its forms, is opposed to brotherly love, 
and self-indulgence, in all its forms, to personal purity. 
There is much in this Epistle which would be called 
by some people theological and transcendent; but no 
one knew better than Paul that, though Christianity 
must be capable of an intellectual construction, it is not 
an intellectual system in essence, but a new moral life. 
He was deeply concerned, as we have repeatedly seen, 
that the Corinthians should think right thoughts about 
Christ and the Gospel ; but he was more than concerned,, 
he was filled with grief, fear, and shame, when he 
thought of the vices of temper and of sensuality that 
prevailed among them. These went to the root of 
Christianity, and if they could not be destroyed it 
must perish. Let us turn our eyes from them to the 
purity and love that they obscure, and lift up our hearts 
to these as the best things to which God has called us 
in the fellowship of His Son. 



" This is the third time I am coming to you. At th« mouth of two 
witnesses or three shall every word «be established. I have said 
beforehand, and I do say beforehand, as when I was present the 
second time, so now, being absent, to them that have sinned heretofore, 
and to all the rest, that, if I come again, I will not spare ; seeing that 
ye seek a proof of Christ that speaketh in me ; who to you-ward is 
not weak, but is powerful in you : for He was crucified through 
weakness, yet He liveth through the power of God. For we also 
are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him through the power of 
God toward you. Try your own selves, whether ye be in the faith ; 
prove your own selves. Or know ye not as to your own selves, 
that Jesus Christ is in you ? unless indeed ye be reprobate. But I 
hope that ye shall know that we are not reprobate. Now we pray 
to God that ye do no evil ; not that we may appear approved, but 
that ye may do that which is honourable, though we be as reprobate. 
For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth. For we 
rejoice, when we are weak, and ye are strong : this we also pray 
for, even your perfecting. For this cause I write these things while 
absent, that I may not when present deal sharply, according to the 
authority which the Lord gave me for building up, and not for 
casting down. 

" Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfected ; be comforted ; be of 
the same mind ; live in peace : and the God of love and peace shall 
be with you. Salute one another with a holy kiss. 

"All the saints salute you. 

"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the 
communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all." — 2 Cor. xiii. (R.V.). 

THE first part of this chapter is in close connexion 
with what precedes; it is, so to speak, the 
explanation of St. Paul's fear (xii. 20) that when he 


xiii.] CONCLUSION 373 

came to Corinth he would be found of the Corinthians 
"not such as they would." He expresses himself with 
great severity; and the abruptness of the first three 
sentences, which are not linked to each other by any 
conjunctions, contributes to the general sense of rigour. 
"This is the third time I am coming to you" is a 
resumption of chap. xii. 14, " This is the third time I 
am ready to come to you," and labours under the 
same ambiguity ; it is perhaps more natural to suppose 
that Paul had actually been twice in Corinth (and there 
are independent reasons for this opinion), but the 
words here used are quite consistent with the idea that 
this was the third time he had definitely purposed and 
tried to visit them, whether his purpose had been 
carried out or not. When he arrives, he will proceed 
at once to hold a judicial investigation into the condition 
of the Church, and will carry it through with legal 
stringency. " At the mouth of two and (where available) 
three witnesses shall every question be brought to 
decision." This principle of the Jewish law (Deut. xix. 
1 5), to which reference is made in other New Testament 
passages connected with Church discipline (Matt, xviii. 
16; 1 Tim. v. 19), is announced as that on which 
he will act. There will be no informality and no 
injustice, but neither will there be any more forbear- 
ance. All cases requiring disciplinary treatment will 
be brought to an issue at once, and the decision will 
be given rigorously as the matter of fact, attested by 
evidence, requires. 1 He feels justified in proceeding 

1 Although it is supported by commentators like Chrysostom and 
Calvin, it is difficult to treat otherwise than as a whim the idea that 
Paul's two or three visits to Corinth make him equal to the two or 
three witnesses required by the law. So also Godet, who counts the 


thus after the reiterated warnings he has given them. 
To these reference is made in the solemn words ot 
ver. 2. English readers can see, by comparing the 
Revised Version with the Authorised, the difficulties of 
translation which still divide scholars. The words 
which the Authorised Version renders "as if I were 
present" (<»? irapwv) are rendered by the Revisers 
"as when I was present." All scholars connect this 
ambiguous clause with to Bevrepov : " the second time." 
Hence there are two main ways in which the whole 
passage can be rendered. The one is that which 
stands in the Revised Version, and which 'S defended 
by scholars like Meyer, Lightfoot, 1 and Schmiedel : it 
is in effect this — " I have already forewarned, and do 
now forewarn, as I did on the occasion of my second 
visit, so also now in my absence, those who have 
sinned heretofore, and all the rest, that if I come again 
I will not spare." This is certainly rather cumbrous ; 
but assuming that chap. ii. I gives strong ground for 
believing in a second visit already paid to Corinth — a 
visit in which Paul had been grieved and humbled by 
disorders in the Church, but had not been in a position 
to do more than warn against their continuance — it 
seems the only available interpretation. Those who 
evade the force of chap. ii. I render here in the line 
of the Authorised Version : " I have forewarned [viz., 
in the first letter, e.g. iv. 21], and do now forewarn, 
as though I were present the second time, although 
I am now absent, those who have sinned," etc. So 
Heinrici. This, on grammatical grounds, seems quite 

three thus: (1) a warning by word of mouth during his second visit; 
(2) this letter ; (3) his actual arrival for the third time. 
1 See Biblical Essays, p. 274. 

xiii.] CONCLUSION 375 

legitimate; but the contrast between presence and 
absence, which is real and effective in the other render- 
ing, is here quite inept. We can understand a man 
saying, " I tell you in my absence, just as I did when 
I was with you that second time " : but who would ever 
say, " I tell you as if I were present with you a second 
time, although in point of fact I am absent " ? The 
absence here comes in with a grotesque effect, and there 
seems hardly room to doubt that the rendering in our 
Revised Version is correct. Paul had, when he visited 
Corinth a second time, warned those who had sinned 
before that visit ; he now warns them again, and all 
others with them who anticipated his coming with an 
evil conscience, that the hour of decision is at hand. 
It is not easy to say what he means by the threat 
not to spare. Many point to judgments like that 
on Ananias and Sapphira, or on Elymas the sorcerer ; 
others to the delivering of the incestuous person to 
Satan, " for the destruction of the flesh " ; the supposi- 
tion being that Paul came to Corinth armed with a 
supernatural power of inflicting physical sufferings on 
the disobedient. This uncanny idea has really no 
support in the New Testament, in spite of the passages 
quoted; and probably what his words aim at is an 
exercise of spiritual authority which might go so far 
as totally to exclude an offender from the Christian 

The third verse is to be taken closely with the second : 
" I will not spare, since ye seek a proof of Christ 
that speaketh in me, who to you-ward is not weak, but 
is powerful in you." The friction between the Corin- 
thians and the Apostle involved a higher interest than 
his. In putting Paul to the proof, they were really 
putting to the proof the Christ who spoke in him. In 


challenging Paul to come and exert his authority, in 
defying him to come with a rod, in presuming on what 
they called his weakness, they were really challenging 
Christ. The description of Christ in the last clause — 
" who towards you is not weak, but is powerful in you, 
or among you " — must be interpreted by the context. 
It can hardly mean that in their conversion, and in their 
experience as Christian people, they had evidence that 
Christ was not weak, but strong : such a reference, 
though supported by Calvin, is surely beside the mark. 
The meaning must rather be that for the purpose in 
hand — the restoration of order and discipline in the 
Corinthian Church — the Christ who spoke in Paul was 
not weak, but mighty. Certainly any one who looked 
at Christ in Himself might see proofs, in abundance, of 
weakness ; going directly to the crowning one, " He 
was crucified" the Apostle says, " in virtue of weakness" 
Sin was so much stronger than He, in the days of His 
flesh, that it did what it liked with Him. Sin mocked 
Him, buffeted Him, scourged Him, spit upon Him 
nailed Him to the tree — so utter was His weakness, 
so complete the triumph of sin over Him. But that is 
not the whole story : " He liveth in virtue of the power 
of God." He has been raised from the dead by the 
glory of the Father ; sin. cannot touch Him any more : 
He has all power in heaven and on earth, and all things 
are under His feet. This double relation of Christ to 
sin is exemplified in His Apostle. " For we also are 
weak in Him ; but we shall live with Him, in virtue of 
God's power, toward you." The sin of the Corinthians 
had had its victory over Paul on the occasion of his 
second visit ; God had humbled him then, even as 
Christ was humbled on the cross; he had seen the 
evil, but it had been too strong for him ; in spite of 


his warnings, it had rolled over his head. That 
" weakness," as the Corinthians called it, remained ; to 
them he was still as weak as ever — hence the present 
daOevovfiev : but to the Apostle it was no discreditable 
thing ; it was a weakness " in Christ," ©r perhaps, as 
some authorities read, " with Christ." In being over- 
powered by sin for the moment, he entered into the 
fellowship of his Lord's sufferings ; he drank out of 
the cup his Master drank upon the cross. But the 
cross does not represent Christ's whole attitude to sin, 
nor does that incapacity to deal with the turbulence, 
disloyalty, and immorality of the Corinthians represent 
the whole attitude of the Apostle to these disorders. 
Paul is not only crucified with Christ, he has been 
made to sit with Him in the heavenly places; and 
when he comes to Corinth this time, it will not be in 
the weakness of Christ, but in the victorious strength 
of His new life. He will come clothed with power 
from on high to execute the Lord's sentence on the 

This passage has great practical interest. There 
are many whose whole conception of the Christian 
attitude toward evil is summed up in the words : " He 
was crucified through weakness." They seem to think 
that the whole function of love in presence of evil, its 
whole experience, its whole method and all its resources, 
are comprehended in bearing what evil chooses, or is 
able, to inflict. There are even bad people, like the 
Corinthians, who imagine that this exhausts the Christian 
ideal, and that they are wronged if they are not allowed 
by Christians to do what they like to them with im- 
punity. And if it is not so easy to auct on this principle 
in our dealings with one another — though there are 
people mean enough to try it — there are plenty of 


hypocrites who presume on it in their dealings with 
God. " He was crucified through weakness," they say 
in their hearts ; the cross exhausts His relation to sin ; 
that infinite patience can never pass over to severity. 
But the assumption is false : the cross does not exhaust 
Christ's relation to sin ; He passed from the cross to 
the throne, and when He comes again it is as Judge. 
It is the sin of sins to presume upon the cross; it is 
a mistake that cannot be remedied to persist in that 
presumption to the end. When Christ comes again, 
He will not spare. The two things go together in 
Him : the infinite patience of the cross, the inexorable 
righteousness of the throne. The same two things go 
together in men : the depth with which they feel evil, 
the completeness with which they suffer it to work its 
will against them, and the power with which they 
vindicate the good. It is the worst blindness, as well 
as the basest guilt, which, because it has seen the one, 
refuses to believe in the other. 

The Corinthians, by their rebellious spirit, were 
putting Paul to the proof; in ver. 5 he reminds them 
sharply that it is their own standing as Christians 
which is in question, and not his. "Try yourselves" 
he says, with abrupt emphasis, "not me) try yourselves, 
if ye are in the faith ; put yourselves to the proof; or 
know ye not as to your own selves, that Jesus Christ is 
in you ? — unless, indeed, ye be reprobate." The mean- 
ing here is hardly open to doubt : x the Apostle urges his 

1 Another interpretation is worth mentioning. "Try yourselves, 
I say; put yourselves to the proof; do not leave it for me to do 
when I come. Why, do you not recognise as to your own selves 
that Jesus Christ is among you, so that you have spiritual compe- 
tence to proceed in correcting the disorders of the Church ? — unless, 
indeed, ye are reprobates : which is an impossible supposition." 

xifi.] CONCLUSION 375 

readers individually to examine their Christian standing. 
" Let each," he virtually says, " put himself to the proof, 
and see whether he is in the faith." There is, indeed, 
a difficulty in the clause, " Or know ye not as to your 
own selves, that Jesus Christ is in you ? — unless, indeed, 
ye be reprobate." This may be read either as a test, 
put into their hands to direct them in their self-scrutiny ; 
or as an appeal to them after — or even before — the 
scrutiny has been made. The manner in which the 
alternative is introduced — "unless, indeed, ye are 
reprobates" — a manner plainly suggesting that the 
alternative in question is not to be assumed, is in favour 
of taking it in the sense of an appeal. After all, they 
are a Christian Church with Christ among them, and 
they cannot but know it. Paul, again, «n his side 
cannot think that they are reprobate, and he hopes 
they will recognise that he is not, but on the contrary 
a genuine Apostle, attested by God, and to be acknow- 
ledged and obeyed by the Church. Very often that 
temper which judges others, and calls legitimate spiritual 
authority in question, is due, as in part it was among 
the Corinthians, to inward misgivings. It is when 
people ought to be putting themselves to the proof, and 
are with cause afraid to begin, that they are most ready 
to challenge others. It was a kind of self-defence— the 
self-defence of a bad conscience — when the Corinthians 
required Paul to demonstrate his apostolic claims before 
he meddled with their affairs. It was a plea, the sole 
purpose of which was to enable them to live on as they 
were, immoral and impenitent. It is properly retorted 
when he says, " Try yourselves if ye are in the faith ; it 

Bat iavroit certainly suggests that in the implied contrast Paul is 
vhUct. not Kuhiert. 

otyett, Bet subject. 


is in every sense of the word an impertinence to drag 
in anybody else." 

In both cases Paul hopes the result of the trial will 
be satisfactory. He would not like to think the 
Corinthians aBo/cifioi ('' reprobate "), and no more would 
he like them to regard him in that light. Still, the two 
things are not on exactly the same footing in his mind ; 
their character is much dearer to him than his own 
reputation ; provided they are what they ought to be, 
he does not care what is thought of himself. This 
is the general sense of w. 7 to 9, and except in 
ver. 8 the details are clear enough. He prays to God 
that the Corinthians may do no evil. His object in 
this is not that he himself may appear approved ; 
indeed, if his prayer is granted, he will have »o oppor- 
tunity of exercising the disciplinary authority of which 
he has said so much. It will be open to any one then 
to say that he is aSo/cifio?, reprobate, a person to be 
rejected because he has not demonstrated his claim to 
apostolic authority by apostolic action. But as long as 
they act well, which is the real object of his prayer, he 
does not care, though he has to pass as aSo/a^o?. He 
can bear evil report as well as good report, and rejoice 
to fulfil his vocation under the one condition as well as 
the other. This is only one aspect of that sacrifice of 
self to the interest of the flock which is indispensable 
in the good shepherd. As compared with any single 
member of his congregation, a minister may be more in 
the eye of the world, more still in the eye of the 
Church ; and it is natural for him to think that some 
self-assertion, some recognition and reputation, are due 
to his position. It is a mistake : no man who under- 
stands the position at all will dream of asserting his 
own importance against that of the community. The 

xiii.] CONCLUSION 38« 

Church, the congregation even, no matter how much it 
may be indebted to him, no matter if it owes to him, as 
the Corinthian Church to Paul, its very existence in 
Christ, is always greater than he ; it will outlive him ; 
and, however tender he may naturally be of his own 
position and reputation, if the Church prosper in 
Christian character, he must be as willing to let these 
dear possessions go, and to count them worthless, as 
to part with money or any material thing. 

The real difficulty here lies in the eighth verse, where 
the Apostle explains, apparently, why he acts on the 
principle just stated. " I pray this prayer for you," he 
seems to say, " and I am content to pass as a reprobate, 
while you do that which is honourable ; for I can do 
nothing against the truth, but for the truth." What 
is the connexion of ideas alluded to by this "for"? 
Some of the commentators give up the question in 
despair ; others only remind one of the French pastor 
who said to some one who preached on Romans : "Saint 
Paul est deja fort difficile et . . vous veniez apres." 
As far as one can make out, he seems to say : " I act 
on this principle because it is the one which furthers 
the truth, and therefore is obligatory upon me ; I am 
not able to act on one which would injure or prejudice 
the truth." The truth, in this interpretation, would be 
synonymous, as it often is in the New Testament, 
with the Gospel. Paul is incapable of acting in a way 
that would check the Gospel, and its influence over 
men ; he has no choice but to act in its interest ; and 
therefore he is content to let the Corinthians think 
what they please of him, provided his prayer is 
answered, and they do no evil, but rather that which 
is good before God. For this is what the Gospel 
requires. "Content," indeed, is not a strong enough 


word. " We rejoice" he says in ver. 9, " when we 
are weak, and you are strong : this we also pray 
for, even your perfecting." " Perfecting " is perhaps 
as good a word as can be got for KardpTiais : 
it denotes the putting right of all that is defective 
or amiss. 

It is in favour of this interpretation of the eighth 
verse that the reason seems at first out of proportion 
to the conclusion. With an idealist like Paul it is 
always so. He appeals to the loftiest motives to in- 
fluence the lowliest actions, — to faith in the Incarnation, 
as a motive to generosity — to faith in the Resurrection 
Life, as a motive to patient continuance in well-doing — 
to faith in the heavenly citizenship of believers, as 
a motive to separation from the licentious. In the 
same way he appeals here to a universal moral rule 
to explain his conduct in a particular case. His 
principle everywhere is, not to act in prejudice of 
(Kara) the Gospel, but in furtherance of it (vtrep) ; he 
has strength available for this last purpose, but none 
at all for the former. It is the rule on which every 
minister of Christ should always act ; and if the line of 
conduct which it pointed out sometimes led men to 
disregard their own reputation, provided the Gospel was 
having free course, the very strangeness of such a result 
might turn to the furtherance of the truth. It is by- 
ends that explain nine-tenths of spiritual inefficiency ; 
singleness of mind like this would save us our per- 
plexities and our failures alike. 

It is because he has an interest like this in the 
Corinthians that Paul writes as he has done while absent 
from Corinth. He does not wish, when he comes among 
them, to proceed with severity. The power the Lord 
gave him would entitle him to do so ; yet he remembers 

xiii.] CONCLUSION 383 

that this power was given him, as he has remarked 
already (x. 8), for building up, and not for casting 
down. Even casting down with a view to building up 
on a better basis was a less natural, if sometimes a 
necessary, exercise of it ; and he hopes that the severity 
of his words will lead, even before his coming, to such 
voluntary action on the part of the Church as will spare 
him severity in deed. 

This is practically the end of the letter, and the mind 
involuntarily goes back to the beginning. We see now 
the three great divisions of it plainly before our eyes. 
In the first seven chapters Paul writes under the general 
impression of the good news Titus has brought from 
Corinth. It has made him glad, and he writes gladly. 
The one case that he had been concerned about has 
been disposed of in a way that he can consider satisfac- 
tory ; the Church, in the majority of its members, has 
acted well in the matter. The eighth and ninth chapters 
are a digression : they are concerned solely with the 
collection for the poor at Jerusalem, and Paul inserts 
them where they stand perhaps because the transition 
was easy from his joy over the change at Corinth to 
his joy over the liberality of the Macedonians. In 
chaps, x. i-xiii, 10 he evidently writes in a very different 
strain. The Church, as a whole, has returned to its 
allegiance, especially on the moral question at issue ; 
but there are Jewish interlopers in it, subverting the 
Gospel, and reconverting Paul's converts to their own 
illiberal faith ; and there are also, as it would appear, 
numbers of sensual people who have not yet renounced 
the vilest sins. It is these two sets of persons who 
are in view in the last four chapters ; and it is the 
utter inconsistency of Judaic nationalism on the one 
hand, and Corinthian licence on the other, with the 


spiritual Gospel of the Son of God, that explains 
the severity of his tone. " The truth " is at stake — the 
truth for which he has suffered all that he recounts in 
chap. xi. — and no vehemence is too passionate for the 
occasion. Yet love controls it all, and he speaks 
severely that he may not have to act severely ; he 
writes these things that, if possible, he may be spared 
the pain of saying them. 

And then the letter, like almost every letter, hastens 
in disconnected sentences to its close. " Finally, 
brethren, farewell." He cannot but address them 
affectionately at parting ; when the heart recovers from 
the heat of indignation, its unchanging love speaks 
again as before. Some would render ^atpere " rejoice," 
instead of " farewell " ; to Paul's readers, no doubt, it 
had a friendly sound, but " rejoice " is far too strong. 
In all the imperatives that follow there is a reminiscence 
of their faults as well as a desire for their good : " be 
perfected, be comforted, be of the same mind, live in 
peace." There was much among them to rectify, much 
that was inevitably disheartening to overcome, much 
dissension to compose, much friction to allay ; but as 
he prays them to face these duties he can assure them 
that the God of love and peace will be with them. 
God can be characterised by love and peace ; they are 
His essential attributes, and He is an inexhaustible 
source of them, so that all who make peace and love 
their aim can count confidently to be helped by Him. 
It is, as it were, the first step of obedience to these 
precepts — the first condition of obtaining the presence 
of God which has just been promised — when the 
Apostle writes, "Greet one another with a holy kiss." 
The kiss was the symbol of Christian brotherhood; 
in exchanging it Christians recognised each other as 

xiii.j CONCLUSION 385 

members of one family. To do this even in form, to 
do it with solemnity in a public assembly of the whole 
Church, was to commit themselves to the obligations 
of peace and love which had been so set at naught in 
their religious contentions. It is a generous encourage- 
ment to them to recognise each other as children of 
God when he adds that all the Christians about him 
recognise them in that character. " All the saints 
salute you." They do so because they are Christians 
and because you are ; acknowledge each other, as you 
are all acknowledged from without. 

The letter is closed, like all that the Apostle wrote, 
with a brief prayer. " The grace of the Lord Jesus 
[Christ], and the love of God, and the communion of 
the Holy Spirit, be with you all." Of all such prayers 
it is the fullest in expression, and this has gained for 
it pre-eminently the name of the apostolic benediction. 
It would be too much to say that the doctrine of the 
Trinity, as it has been defined in the creeds, is explicitly 
to be found here; there is no statement at all in this 
place of the relations of Christ, God, and the Holy Spirit. 
Still, it is on passages like this that the Trinitarian 
doctrine of God is based ; or rather it is in passages 
like this that we see it beginning to take shape : it is 
based on the historical fact of the revelation of God in 
Christ, and on the experience of the new divine life 
which the Church possesses through the Spirit. It is 
extraordinary to find men with the New Testament in 
their hands giving explanations, speculative or popular, 
of this doctrine, which stand in no relation either to 
the historical Christ or to the experience of the 
Church. But these things hang together ; and whatever 
the worth may be of a Trinitarian doctrine which is not 
essentially dependent on the Person of Christ and on 



the life of His Church, it is certainly not Christian. 
The historical original of the doctrine, and the impulse of 
experience under which Paul wrote, are suggested even 
by the order of the words. A speculative theologian 
may try to deduce the Triune nature of God from the 
borrowed assumption that God is love, or knowledge, or 
spirit ; but the Apostle has only come to know God as 
love through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is 
this which reveals God's love and assures us of it ; it 
is this by which God commends His own love to us. 
" No man cometh unto the Father but by Me" Jesus 
said ; and this truth, pre-announced by the Lord, is 
certified here by the very order in which the Apostle 
instinctively puts the sacred names. " The communion 
of the Holy Spirit " stands last ; it is in this that " the 
grace of the Lord Jesus and the love of God " become 
the realised possessions of Christian men. The precise 
force of " the communion " is open to doubt. If we 
take the genitive in the same sense as it bears in the 
previous clauses, the word will mean " the fellowship 
or unity of feeling which is produced by the Spirit." 
This is a good sense, but not the only one : what Paul 
wishes may rather be the joint participation of them 
all in the Spirit, and in the gifts which it confers. But 
practically the two meanings coincide, and our minds 
rest on the comprehensiveness of the blessing invoked 
on a Church so mixed, and in many of its members so 
unworthy. Surely " the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, 
and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy 
Ghost " were with the man who rises so easily, so un- 
constrainedly, after all the tempest and passion of this 
letter, to such a height of love and peace. Heaven is 
open over his head ; he is conscious, as he writes, of 
the immensities of that love whose breadth and length 

xiii.] CONCLUSION 387 

and depth and height pass knowledge. In the Son 
who revealed it — in God who is its eternal source — 
in the Spirit through whom it lives in men — he is 
conscious of that love and of its workings ; and he 
prays that in all its aspects, and in all its virtues, it 
may be with them all. 





UxADiMcunr College, Lsid*. 



3 A 5 Wbbt 18th Stbeet, hbab 5th Avehub 


"mepTKR i. i — ia 



THB ADDRESS *«..o<.o> -3 


THS SALUTATION - «» ■ ■ * 19 


YHE ANATHEMA •■••••■••34 

Chapter L II — ii. 21. 



Paul's divjnb commission -•-••••68 









PAUL AND PETER AT ANTIOCH - - • • « -1 29 




CKAt""i£ft ill. I — V. 12. 



Abraham's blessing and the law's curse • • 180 

the covenant of promise -••••• 196 

the design of the law - - - - - - • Ml 








PAUL'S ENTREATY --•-•••_ jyj 

THE STORY OF HAGAR • ..*•«. 2 Bb 




Chapter v. 13 — vi. 10. 







nut works or the flesh ...... 361 



OUR brother's burden and our own . - « *■ 390 


SOWING AND REAPIN9 ....... 40$ 

Chapter vi. 1 1 — iS 






THE BRAKE OF JESUS ....... 448 

Chapter i I — IQ. 



" Paul, an apostle (not from men, neither through man, but through 
Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead), 
and all the brethren which are with me, unto the Churches of Galatia. " * 
—Gal. i. i, 2. 

ANTIQUITY has nothing to show more notable in 
its kind, or more precious, than this letter of Paul 
to the Churches of Galatia. It takes us back, in some 
respects nearer than any other document we possess, 
to the beginnings of Christian theology and the 
Christian Church. In it the spiritual consciousness 
of Christianity first reveals itself in its distinctive 
character and its full strength, free from the trammels 
of the past, realizing the advent of the new kingdom 
of God that was founded in the death of Christ. It 
is the voice of the Church testifying " God hath sent 
forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts." Buried 
for a thousand years under the weight of the Catholic 
legalism, the teaching of this Epistle came to life again 
in the rise of Protestantism. Martin Luther put it 
to his lips as a trumpet to blow the reveille of the 
Reformation. His famous Commentary summoned 
enslaved Christendom to recover "the liberty wherewith 

* The text used in this exposition is, with very few exceptions, that 
of the Revised English Version, or its margin. 


Christ hath made us free." Of all the great Reformer's 
writings this was the widest in its influence and the 
dearest to himself. For the spirit of Paul lived again 
in Luther, as in no other since the Apostle's day. 
The Epistle to the Galatians is the charter of Evan- 
gelical faith. 

The historical criticism of the present century has 
brought this writing once more to the front of the 
conflict of faith. Born in controversy, it seems inevit- 
ably to be born for controversy. Its interpretation 
forms the pivot of the most thoroughgoing recent dis- 
cussions touching the beginnings of Christian history 
and the authenticity of the New Testament record 
The Galatian Epistle is, in fact, the key of New Testa- 
ment Apologetics. Round it the Roman and Corinthian 
Letters group themselves, forming together a solid, 
impregnable quaternion, and supplying a fixed starting- 
point and an indubitable test for the examination of the 
critical questions belonging to the Apostolic age. What- 
ever else may be disputed, it is agreed that there was 
an apostle Paul, who wrote these four Epistles to certain 
Christian societies gathered out of heathenism, com- 
munities numerous, widely scattered, and containing 
men of advanced intelligence; and this within thirty 
years of the death of Jesus Christ. Every critic must 
reckon with this fact. The most sceptical criticism 
makes a respectful pause before our Epistle. Hopeless 
of destroying its testimony, Rationalism treats it with 
an even exaggerated deference ; and seeks to extract 
evidence from it against its companion witnesses amongst 
the New Testament writings. This attempt, however 
misdirected, is a signal tribute to the importance of the 
document, and to the force with which the personality 
of the writer and the conditions of the time have 

i. 1,2.] THE ADDRESS. 

stamped themselves upon it. The deductions of the 
Baurian criticism appear to us to rest on a narrow 
and arbitrary examination of isolated passages ; they 
spring from a mistaken a priori view of the historical 
situation. Granting however to these inferences, 
which will meet us as we proceed, their utmost 
weight, they still leave the testimony of Paul to the 
supernatural character of Christianity substantially 

Of the four major Epistles, this one is superlatively 
characteristic of its author. It is Paulinissima Paul- 
inamm— most Pauline of Pauline things. It is largely 
autobiographical; hence its peculiar value. Reading 
it, we watch history in the making. We trace the rise 
of the new religion in the typical man of the epoch. 
The master-builder of the Apostolic Church stands 
before us, at the crisis of his work. He lets us look 
into his heart, and learn the secret of his power. We 
come to know the Apostle Paul as we know scarcely 
any other of the world's great minds. We find in him 
a man of the highest intellectual and spiritual powers, 
equally great in passion and in action, as a thinker 
and a leader of men. But at every step of our 
acquaintance the Apostle points us beyond himself; he 
says, "It is not I : it is Christ that lives in me." If 
this Epistle teaches us the greatness of Paul, it teaches 
us all the more the Divine greatness of Jesus Christ, 
before whom that kingly intellect and passionate heart 
bowed in absolute devotion. 

The situation which the Epistle reveals and the 
personal references in which it abounds are full of 
interest at every point. They furnish quite essential 
data to the historian of the Early Church. We could 
wish that the Apostle, telling us so much, had told us 


more. His allusions, clear enough, we must suppose, 
to the first readers, have lent themselves subsequently 
to very conflicting interpretations. But as they stand, 
they are invaluable. The fragmentary narrative of the 
Acts requires, especially in its earlier sections, all the 
illustration that can be obtained from other sources. 
The conversion of Paul, and the Council at Jerusalem, 
events of capital importance for the history of Apostolic 
times, are thereby set in a light certainly more complete 
and satisfactory than is furnished in Luke's narrative, 
taken by itself. And Paul's references to the Judean 
Church and its three "pillars," touch the crucial question 
of New Testament criticism, namely that concerning 
the relation of the Gentile Apostle to Jewish Christianity 
and the connection between his theology and the teach- 
ing of Jesus. Our judgement respecting the conflict 
between Peter and Paul at Antioch in particular will 
determine our whole conception of the legalist con- 
troversy, and consequently of the course of Church 
history during the first two centuries. Around these 
cursory allusions has gathered a contest only less 
momentous than that from which they sprung. 

The personal and the doctrinal element are equally 
prominent in this Epistle ; and appear in a combination 
characteristic of the writer. Paul's theology is the 
theology of experience. " It pleased God," he says^ 
"to reveal His Son in me" (ch. i. 16). His teaching 
is cast in a psychological mould. It is largely a record 
of the Apostle's spiritual history ; it is the expression 
of a living, inward process — a personal appropriation 
of Christ, and a growing realization of the fulness of 
the Godhead in Him. The doctrine of Paul was as far 
as possible removed from being the result of abstract 
deduction, or any mere combination of data externally 

i. i, a.] THE ADDRESS. 

given. In his individual consciousness, illuminated by 
the vision of Christ and penetrated by the Spirit of 
God, he found his message for the world. " We believe, 
and therefore speak. We have received the Spirit of 
God, that we may know the things freely given us of 
God : " sentences like these show us very clearly how 
the Apostle's doctrine formed itself in his mind. His 
apprehension of Christ, above all of the cross, was the 
focus, the creative and governing centre, of all his 
thoughts concerning God and man, time and eternity. 
In the light of this knowledge he read the Old Testa- 
ment, he interpreted the earthly life and teaching of 
Jesus. On the ground of this personal sense of salvation 
he confronted Peter at Antioch ; on the same ground 
he appeals to the vacillating Galatians, sharers with 
himself in the new life of the Spirit. Here lies the 
nerve of his argument in this Epistle. The theory of 
the relation of the Law to the Abrahamic promise 
developed in the third chapter, is the historical counter- 
part of the relation of the legal to the evangelical 
consciousness, as he had experienced the two states 
in turn within his own breast. The spirit of Paul was 
a microcosm, in which the course of the world's 
religious evolution was summed up, and brought to 
the knowledge of itself. 

The Apostle's influence over the minds of others was 
due in great part to the extraordinary force with which 
he apprehended the facts of his own spiritual nature. 
Through the depth and intensity of his personal ex- 
perience he touched the experience of his fellows, he 
seized on those universal truths that are latent in the 
consciousness of mankind, "by manifestation of the 
truth commending himself to every man's conscience 
in the sight of God." But this knowledge of the things 


of God was not the mere fruit of reflection and self- 
searching ; it was " the ministration of the Spirit." 
Paul did not simply know Christ; he was one with 
Christ, "joined to the Lord, one spirit" with Him. 
He did not therefore speak out of the findings of his 
own spirit ; the absolute Spirit, the Spirit of truth and 
of Christ, spoke in him. Truth, as he knew it, was 
the self-assertion of a Divine life. And so this handful 
of old letters, broken and casual in form, with their 
"rudeness of speech," their many obscurities, their 
rabbinical logic, have stirred the thoughts of men and 
swayed their lives with a power greater perhaps than 
belongs to any human utterances, saving only those 
of the Divine Master. 

The features of Paul's style show themselves here in 
their most pronounced form. " The style is the man." 
And the whole man is in this letter. Other Epistles 
bring into relief this or that quality of the Apostle's 
disposition and of his manner as a writer ; here all arf 
present. The subtlety and trenchant vigour of Paulim 
dialectic are nowhere more conspicuous than in the 
discussion with Peter in ch. ii. The discourse or* 
Promise and Law in ch. iii. is a master-piece o/ 
exposition, unsurpassed in its keenness of insight, 
breadth of view, and skill of application. Such passage* 
as ch. i. 15, 16; ii. 19, 20; vi. 1 4, take us into the 
heart of the Apostle's teaching, and reveal its mystical 
depth of intuition. Behind the masterful dialectician 
we find the spiritual seer, the man of contemplation, 
whose fellowship is with the eternal and unseen. And 
the emotional temperament of the writer has left its 
impress on this Epistle not less distinctly than his 
mental and spiritual gifts. The denunciations of ch. i. 
€ — 10; iL 4, 5 ; iv. 9; v. 7 — 12; vi. 12 — 14, burn 


with a concentrated intensity of passion, a sublime and 
holy scorn against the enemies of the cross, such as 
a nature like Paul's alone is capable of feeling. Nor 
has the Apostle penned anything on the other hand 
more amiable and touching, more winningly frank and 
tender in appeal, than the entreaty of ch. iv. 1 1—20. 
His last sentence, in ch. vi. 17, is an irresistible stroke 
of pathos. The ardour of his soul, his vivacity of mind 
and quick sensibility, are apparent throughout. Those 
sudden turns of thought and bursts of emotion that 
occur in all his Epistles and so much perplex their 
interpreters, are especially numerous in this. And 
yet we find that these interruptions are never allowed 
to divert the writer from his purpose, nor to destroy 
the sequence of his thought. They rather carry it 
forward with greater vehemence along the chosen 
course, as storms will a strong and well-manned ship. 
The Epistle is strictly a unity. It is written, as one 
might say, at a single breath, as if under pressure and 
in stress of mind. There is little of the amplitude 
of expression and the delight in lingering over some 
favourite idea that characterize the later Epistles. Nor 
is there any passage of sustained eloquence to compare 
with those that are found in the Roman and Corinthian 
letters. The business on which the Apostle writes is 
too urgent, his anxiety too great, to allow of freedom 
and discursiveness of thought. Hence this Epistle is 
to an unusual degree closely packed in matter, rapid in 
movement, and severe in tone. 

In its construction the Epistle exhibits an almost 
dramatic character. It is full of action and animation. 
There is a gradual unfolding of the subject, and a skil- 
ful combination of scene and incident brought to bear 
on the solution of the crucial question. The Apostle 


himself, the insidious Judaizers, and the wavering 
Galatians, — these are the protagonists of the action; 
with Peter and the Church at Jerusalem playing a 
secondary part, and Abraham and Moses, Isaac and 
Ishmael, appearing in the distance. The first Act 
conducts us rapidly from scene to scene till we behold 
Paul labouring amongst the Gentiles, and the Churches 
of Judea listening with approval to the reports of his 
success. The Council of Jerusalem opens a new stage 
in the history. Now Gentile liberties are at stake; 
but Titus' circumcision is successfully resisted, and 
Paul as the Apostle of the Uncircumcised is acknow- 
ledged by " the pillars " as their equal ; and finally 
Peter, when he betrays the truth of the Gospel at 
Antioch, is corrected by the Gentile Apostle. The 
third chapter carries us away from the present con- 
flict into the region of first principles, — to the Abrahamic 
Covenant with its spiritual blessing and world-wide 
promise, opposed by the condemning Mosaic Law, an 
opposition finally resolved by the coming of Christ and 
the gift of His Spirit of adoption. At this point the 
Apostle turns the gathered force of his argument upon 
his readers, and grapples with them front to front in 
the expostulation carried on from ch. iv. 8 to v. 12, 
in which the story of Hagar forms a telling episode. 
The fifth and closing Act, extending to the middle of 
ch. vi., turns on the antithesis of Flesh and Spirit, 
bringing home the contention to the region of ethics, 
and exhibiting to the Galatians the practical effect of 
their following the Pauline or the Judaistic leadership. 
Paul and the Primitive Church ; Judaism and Gentile- 
Chrirtian liberties ; the Covenants of Promise and of 
Law , the circumcision or non-circumcision of the 
Galatians ; the dominion of Flesh or Spirit : these are 

i. i,2.] THE ADDRESS. it 

the contrasts through which the Epistle advances. Its 

centre lies in the decisive question given in the fourth 

of these antitheses. If we were to fix it in a single 

point, ver. 2 of ch. v. is the sentence we should 

choose : — 

" Behold, I Paul say unto you, 

If ye be circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing." 

The above analysis may be reduced to the common 
threefold division, followed in this exposition : — viz. 
(i) Personal History, ch. i. II — ii. 21 ; (2) Doctrinal 
Polemic, ch. iii. I — v. 12; (3) Ethical Application, ch. 
v. 13 — vi. 10. 

The epistolary Introduction forms the Prologue, ch. 
L I — 10 ; and an Epilogue is appended, by way of 
renewed warning and protestation, followed by the 
concluding signature and benediction, — ch. vi. 1 1 — 18. 

The Address occupies the first two verses of the 

I. On the one side is the writer: " Paul, an Apostle." 
In his earliest Letters (to Thessalonica) the title is 
wanting; so also in Philippians and Philemon. The 
last instance explains the other two. To the Macedonian 
Churches Paul writes more in the style of friendship 
than authority : " for love's sake he rather entreats.'' 
With the Galatians it is different. He proceeds to 
define his apostleship in terms that should leave no 
possible doubt respecting its character and rights : 
" not from men," he adds, " nor through man ; but 
through Jesus Christ, and God the Father, that raised 
Him from the dead." 

This reads like a contradiction of some statement 
made by Paul s opposers. Had they insinuated that 
he was "an apostle from men," that his office was 


derived, like their own, only from the mother Church 
in Jerusalem? Such insinuations would very well 
serve their purpose ; and if they were made, Paul would 
be sure not to lose a moment in meeting them. 

The word apostle had a certain latitude of meaning.* 
It was already, there is reason to believe, a term of 
Jewish official usage when our Lord applied it to His 
chosen Twelve. It signified a delegate or envoy, ac- 
credited by some public authority, and charged with a 
special message. We can understand therefore its 
application to the emissaries of particular Churches — 
of Jerusalem or Antioch, for example — despatched 
as their messengers to other Churches, or with a 
general commission to proclaim the Gospel. The 
recently discovered " Teaching of the Apostles " shows 
that this use of the title continued in Jewish-Christian 
circles to the end of the first century, alongside of the 
restricted and higher use. The lower apostleship 
belonged to Paul in common with Barnabas and Silas 
and many others. 

In the earlier period of his ministry, the Apostle was 
seemingly content to rank in public estimation with his 
companions in the Gentile mission. But a time came 
when he was compelled to arrogate to himself the 

* Compare Acts xiv. 4, 14 {Barnabas and Paul) ; I Thess. ii. 6 
{Paul and his comrades) ; Rom. xvL 7 (Andronicus and Juntas) j 
2 Cor. viii. 23 ( Titus and others, " apostles of the churches ") ; 2 Cor. 
xi. 13 (" false apostles " : [udean emissaries) ; also Rev. ii. 2 ; Heb. 
iii. 1 ; John xiii. 16. On the N.T. use of apostle, see Lightfoot's 
Galatians, pp. 92 — IOI ; but especially Huxtable's Dissertation in the 
Pulpit Commentary (Galatians), pp. xxiii. — 1., the most satisfactory 
elucidation of the subject we have met with. Prebendary Huxtable 
however presses his argument too far, when he insists that St Paul 
held his higher commission entirely in abeyance until the crisis of the 
Judaic controversy. 

i.I,*.J THE ADDRESS. 13 

higher dignity. His right thereto was acknowledged 
at the memorable conference in Jerusalem by the 
leaders of the Jewish Church. So we gather from the 
language of ch. ii. 7 — 9. But the full exercise of 
his authority was reserved for the present emergency, 
when all his energy and influence were required to 
stem the tide of the Judaistic reaction. We can well 
imagine that Paul " gentle in the midst " of his flock 
and " not seeking to be of weight " (i Thess. ii. 6, 7), 
had hitherto said as little as need be on the subject 
of his official rights. His modesty had exposed him 
to misrepresentations both in Corinth and in Galatia. 
He will " have " these people " to know " that his 
gospel is in the strictest sense Divine, and that he 
received his commission, as certainly as any of the 
Twelve, from the lips of Jesus Christ Himself (ver. n). 
" Not from men " excludes human derivation ; " not 
through man," human intervention in the conferment 
of Paul's office. The singular number (man) replaces 
the plural in the latter phrase, because it stands 
immediately opposed to "Jesus Christ" (a striking 
witness this to His Divinity). The second clause 
carries the negation farther than the first; for a call 
from God may be, and commonly is, imposed by 
human hands. There are, says Jerome, four kinds of 
Christian ministers : first, those sent neither from men 
nor through man, like the prophets of old time and the 
Apostles; secondly, those who are from God, but 
through man, as it is with their legitimate successors ; 
thirdly, those who are from men, but not from God, as 
when one is ordained through mere human favour and 
flattery ; the fourth class consists of such as have their 
call neither from God nor man, but wholly from them- 
selves, as with false prophets and the false apostles 


of whom Paul speaks. His vocation, the Apostle 
declares, was superhuman, alike in its origin and in 
the channel by which it was conveyed. It was no 
voice of man that summoned Saul of Tarsus from the 
ranks of the enemies to those of the servants of Christ, 
and gave him the message he proclaimed. Damascus 
and Jerusalem in turn acknowledged the grace given 
unto him ; Antioch had sent him forth on her behalf to 
the regions beyond : but he was conscious of a call 
anterior to all this, and that admitted of no earthly 
validation. " Am I not an apostle ? " he exclaims, 
"have I not seen Jesus our Lord?" (i Cor. ix. i). 
" Truly the signs of the Apostle were wrought in him," 
both in the miraculous powers attending his office, and 
in those moral and spiritual qualities of a minister of 
God in which he was inferior to none.* For the exercise 
of his ministry he was responsible neither to " those of 
repute " at Jerusalem, nor to his censurers at Corinth ; 
but to Christ who had bestowed it (i Cor. iv. 3, 4). 

The call of the Apostle proceeded also from " God 
the Father, who raised Jesus Christ from the dead." 
Christ was in this act the mediator, declaring the 
Supreme will. In other places, more briefly, he styles 
himself "Apostle by the will of God." His appoint- 
ment took place by a Divine intervention, in which 
the ordinary sequence of events was broken through. 
Long after the Saviour in His bodily presence had 
ascended to heaven, when in the order of nature it was 
impossible that another Apostle should be elected, and 
when the administration of His Church had been for 
several years carried on by human hands, He appeared 
once more on earth for the purpose of making this man 

* 1 Cor xv. 10 ; 2 Cor. iv. a } vi. 3 — 10 ; xi. 5, 16 — xii. 13. 

Ll,&] THE ADDRESS. 15 

His "minister and witness;" He appeared in the 
name of " the Father, who had raised Him from the 
dead." This interposition gave to Paul's ministry an 
exceptional character. While the mode of his election 
was in one aspect humbling, and put him in the 
position of " the untimely one," the " least of the 
Apostles," whose appearance in that capacity was 
unlooked for and necessarily open to suspicion ; on the 
other hand, it was glorious and exalting, since it so 
richly displayed the Divine mercy and the transforming 
power of grace. 

But why does he say, who raised Him from the dead? 
Because it was the risen Jesus that he saw, and that he 
was conscious of seeing in the moment of the vision. 
The revelation that arrested him before Damascus, 
in the same moment convinced him that Jesus was 
risen, and that he himself was called to be His servant. 
These two convictions were inseparably linked in 
Paul's recollections. As surely as God the Father had 
raised His Son Jesus from the dead and given Him 
glory, so surely had the glorified Jesus revealed Him- 
self to Saul his persecutor to make him His Apostle. 
He was, not less truly than Peter or John, a witness of 
His resurrection. The message of the Resurrection 
was the burden of the Apostleship. 

He adds, " and all the brethren which are with me." 
For it was Paul's custom to associate with himself in 
these official letters his fellow-labourers, present at the 
time. From this expression we gather that he was 
attended just now by a considerable band of companions, 
such as we find enumerated in Acts xx. 2 — 6, attending 
him on his journey from Ephesus to Corinth during 
the third missionary tour. This circumstance has 
some bearing on the date of the letter. Bishop 


Lightfoot (in his Commentary) shows reason for 
believing that it was written, not from Ephesus as 
commonly supposed, but at a somewhat later time, 
from Macedonia. It is connected by numerous and 
close links of internal association with the Epistle to 
the Romans, which on this supposition speedily 
followed, and with 2 Corinthians, immediately preced- 
ing it. And the allusion of the text, though of no 
decisive weight taken by itself, goes to support this 
reasoning. Upon this hypothesis, our Epistle was 
composed in Macedonia, during the autumn of 57 
(or possibly, 58) a.d. The emotion which surcharges 
2 Corinthians runs over into Galatians : while the 
theology which labours for expression in Galatians 
finds ampler and calmer development in Romans. 

II. Of the readers, "the churches of Galatia," it is 
not necessary to say much at present. The character 
of the Galatians, and the condition of their Churches, 
will speak for themselves as we proceed. Galatian is 
equivalent to Gaul, or Kelt. This people was a detached 
fragment of the great Western-European race, which 
forms the basis of our own Irish and West-British 
populations, as well as of the French nationality. 
They had conquered for themselves a home in the 
north of Asia Minor during the Gaulish invasion that 
poured over South-eastern Europe and into the Asiatic 
peninsula some three and a half centuries before. 
Here the Gallic intruders stubbornly held their ground ; 
and only succumbed to the irresistible power of Rome. 
Defeated by the Consul Manlius in 189 B.C., the 
Galatians retained their autonomy, under the rule of 
native princes, until in the year 25 B.C., on the death 
of Amyntas, the country was made a province of the 
Empire. The people maintained their distinctivf 

li. *] THE ADDRESS. 17 

character and speech despite these changes. At the 
same time they readily acquired Greek culture, and 
were by no means barbarians ; indeed they were noted 
for their intelligence. In religion they seem to have 
largely imbibed the Phrygian idolatry of the earlier 

The Roman Government had annexed to Galatia 
certain districts lying to the south, in which were 
situated most of the cities visited by Paul and Barnabas 
in their first missionary tour. This has led some 
scholars to surmise that Paul's " Galatians " were really 
Pisidians and Lycaonians, the people of Derbe, Lystra, 
and Pisidian Antioch. But this is improbable. The 
inhabitants of these regions were never called Galatians 
in common speech ; and Luke distinguishes " the 
Galatic country " quite clearly from its southern border- 
lands. Besides, the Epistle contains no allusions, such 
as we should expect in the case supposed, to the 
Apostle's earlier and memorable associations with these 
cities of the South. Elsewhere he mentions them by 
name (2 Tim. iii. 1 1 ) ; and why not here, if he were 
addressing this circle of Churches ? 

The Acts of the Apostles relates nothing of Paul's 
sojourn in Galatia, beyond the fact that he twice 
"passed through the Galatic country" (Acts xvi. 6; 
1 riii. 23), on the first occasion during the second 
missionary journey, in travelling north and then west- 
wards from Pisidia ; the second time, on his way from 
Antioch to Ephesus, in the course of the third tour. 
Galatia lay outside the main line of Paul's evangelistic 
career, as the historian of the Acts describes it, outside 
the Apostle's own design, as it would appear from 
ch. iv. 13. In the first instance Galatia follows (in 
the order of the Acts), in the second precedes Phrygia, 


a change which seems to indicate some new importance 
accruing to this region : the further clause in Acts 
xviii. 23, "strengthening all the disciples," shows that 
the writer was aware that by this time a number of 
Christian societies were in existence in this neighbour- 

No city is mentioned in the address, but the country of 
Galatia only — the single example of the kind in Paul's 
Epistles. The Galatians were countryfolk rather than 
townsfolk. And the Church seems to have spread 
over the district at large, without gathering itself into 
any one centre, such as the Apostle had occupied in 
other parts of his Gentile field. 

Still more significant is the curtness of this designa- 
tion. Paul does not say, " To the Churches of God 
in Galatia," or " to the saints and faithful brethren in 
Christ," as in other Epistles. He is in no mood for 
compliments. These Galatians are, he fears, "remov- 
ing from God who had called them " (ver. 6). He 
stands in doubt of them. It is a question whether they 
are now, or will long continue, " Churches of God " at 
all. He would gladly commend them if he could ; but 
he must instead begin with reproaches. And yet we 
shall find that, as the Apostle proceeds, his sternness 
gradually relaxes. He remembers that these " foolish 
Galatians " are his " children," once ardently attached 
to him (ch. iv. 12 — 20). His heart yearns towards 
them ; he travails over them in birth again. Surely 
they will not forsake him, and renounce the gospel of 
whose blessings they had enjoyed so rich an experience 
(ch. iii. 3; v. 10). He calls them "brethren" once 
and again ; and with this kindly word, holding out the 
hand of forgiveness, he concludes the letter. 



" Grace to you and peace from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus 
Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us out of 
this present evil world, according to the will of our God and Father : 
to whom be the glory for ever and ever. Amen." — Gal. L 3 — 5. 

THE greetings and benedictions of the Apostolic 
Letters deserve more attention from us than they 
sometimes receive. We are apt to pass over them as 
if they were a kind of pious formality, like the conven- 
tional phrases of our own epistles. But to treat them 
in such fashion is to do injustice to the seriousness 
and sincerity of Holy Scripture. This salutation of 
" Grace and Peace " comes from Paul's very heart. It 
breathes the essence of his gospel. 

This formula appears to be of the Apostle's coining. 
Other writers, we may believe, borrowed it from him. 
Grace represents the common Greek salutation,— /oy to 
you, xaipetv changing to the kindred x"-? 1 * > while the 
more religious peace of the Hebrew, so often heard 
from the lips of Jesus, remains unaltered, only receiving 
from the New Covenant a tenderer significance. It is 
as though East and West, the old world and the new, 
met here and joined their voices to bless the Church 
and people of Jesus Christ. 

Grace is the sum of all blessing bestowed by God ; 


peace, in its wide Hebraic range of meaning, the sum of 
all blessing experienced by man. Grace is the Father's 
goodwill and bounty in Christ to His undeserving 
children ; peace, the rest and reconcilement, the re- 
covered health and gladness of the child brought home 
to the Father's house, dwelling in the light of his 
Father's face. Grace is the fountain of redeeming love ; 
peace is the " river of life proceeding from the throne 
of God and of the Lamb," that flows calm and deep 
through each believing soul, the river whose " streams 
make glad the city of God." 

What could a pastor wish better for his people, or 
friend for the friend he loves most, than this double 
blessing ? Paul's letters are perfumed with its fra- 
grance. Open them where you will, they are breathing 
out, " Grace to you and peace." Paul has hard things 
to write in this Epistle, sorrowful complaints to make, 
grievous errors to correct ; but still with " Grace and 
peace " he begins, and with " Peace and grace " he 
will end 1 And so this stern and reproachful letter to 
these " foolish Galatians " is all embalmed and folded 
up in grace and peace. That is the way to "be angry 
and sin not." So mercy rejoices over judgement. 

These two benedictions, we must remember, go 
together. Peace comes through grace. The proud 
heart never knows peace ; it will not yield to God the 
glory of His grace. It scorns to be a debtor, even to 
Him. The proud man stands upon his rights, upon his 
merits. And he will have them ; for God is just. But 
peace is not amongst them. No sinful child of man 
deserves that. Is there wrong between your soul and 
God, iniquity hidden in the heart ? Till that wrong is 
confessed, till you submit to the Almighty and your 
spirit bows at the Redeemer's cross, what hast thou 


to do with peace ? No peace in this world, or in any 
world, for him who will not be at peace with God. 
" When I kept silence," so the ancient confession runs 
(Ps. xxxii. 3 — 5), " my bones waxed old through my 
moaning all the day long " — that is why many a man is 
old before his time ! because of this continual inward 
chafing, this secret, miserable war of the heart against 
God. " Day and night Thy hand was heavy upon me ; 
my moisture was turned into the drought of summer " — 
the soul withered like grass, all the freshness and pure 
delight of life wasted and perishing under the steady, 
unrelenting heat of the Divine displeasure. "Then I 
said " — I could bear it no longer — " I said, I will confess 
my transgression unto the Lord ; and Thou forgavest 
the iniquity of my sin." And then peace came to the 
weary soul. The bitterness and hardness of life were 
gone ; the heart was young again. The man was new 
born, a child of God. 

But while Paul gives this salutation to all his 
Churches, his greeting is extended and qualified here in 
a peculiar manner. The Galatians were falling away 
from faith in Christ to Jewish ritualism. He does not 
therefore wish them " Grace and peace " in a general 
way, or as objects to be sought from any quarter 
or by any means that they might choose ; but only 
" from God our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, who 
gave Himself for our sins." Here is already a note 
of warning and a tacit contradiction of much that they 
were tempted to believe. It would have been a mockery 
for the Apostle to desire for these fickle Galatians 
grace and peace on other terms. As at Corinth, so in 
Galatia, he is " determined to know nothing save Jesus 
Christ and Him crucified." Above the puerilities of 
their Jewish ritual, above the pettiness of their wrang- 


ling factions, he directs his readers' gaze once more to 
the sacrifice of Calvary and the sublime purpose of God 
which it reveals. 

Do we not need to be recalled to the same sight ? 
We live in a distracted and distracting age. Even with- 
out positive unbelief, the cross is too frequently thrust 
out of view by the hurry and press of modern life. 
Nay, in the Church itself is it not in danger of being 
practically set on one side, amidst the throng of com- 
peting interests which solicit, and many of them justly 
solicit, our attention ? We visit Calvary too seldom. 
We do not haunt in our thoughts the sacred spot, and 
linger on this theme, as the old saints did. We fail to 
attain " the fellowship of Christ's sufferings ; " and while 
the cross is outwardly exalted, its inward meaning is 
perhaps but faintly realised. " Tell us something new," 
they say; "that story of the cross, that evangelical 
doctrine of yours we have heard it so often, we know 
it all so well 1 " If men are saying this, if the cross 
of Christ is made of none effect, its message staled by 
repetition, we must be strangely at fault either in the 
hearing or the telling. Ah, if we knew the cross of 
Christ, it would crucify us ; it would possess our being. 
Its supremacy can never be taken from it. That cross 
is still the centre of the world's hope, the pillar of 
salvation. Let the Church lose her hold of it, and she 
loses everything. She has no longer any reason to 

I. So the Apostle's greeting invites his readers to 
contemplate anew the Divine gift bestowed upon sinful 
men. It invokes blessing upon them " from our Lord 
Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins." 

To see this gift in its greatness, let us go a little 
farther back ; let us consider who the Christ is that 


thus "gives Himself." He is, we are taught, the 
almoner of all the Divine bounties. He is not the 
object alone, but the depositary and dispenser of the 
Father's good pleasure to all worlds and all creatures. 
Creation is rooted in "the Son of God's love" (Col. 
i. 15 — 1 8). Universal life has its fountain in "tht 
Only-begotten, which is in the bosom of the Father." 
The light that dispelled the weltering gloom of chaos, 
the more wondrous light that shone in the dawn of 
human reason, came from this " outbeaming of the 
Father's glory." Countless gifts had He, "the life of 
men, the Word that was from the beginning," bestowed 
on a world that knew Him not. Upon the chosen 
race, the people whom on the world's behalf he formed 
for Himself, He showered His blessings. He had 
given them promise and law, prophet and priest and 
king, gifts of faith and hope, holy obedience and brave 
patience and deep wisdom and prophetic fire and 
heavenly rapture ; and His gifts to them have come 
through them to us, " partakers with them of the root 
and fatness of the olive tree." 

But now, to crown all, He gave Himself! "The 
Word became flesh." The Son of God planted Him- 
self into the stock of human life, made Himself over 
to mankind ; He became the Son of man. So in the 
fulness of time came the fulness of blessing. Earlier 
bestowments were instalments and prophecies of this ; 
later gifts are its outcome and its application. What 
could He have done more than this ? What could 
the Infinite God do more, even for the most worthy, 
than He has done for us in " sending His Son, the 
Only-begotten, that we might live through Him I " 
Giving us Him, surely He will give us grace and 


And if our Lord Jesus Christ " gave Himself," is 
not that sufficient ? What could Jewish ritual and cir- 
cumcision add to this " fulness of the Godhead ? " 
Why hunt after the shadows, when one has the 
substance ? Such were the questions which the 
Apostle has to ask his Judaizing readers. And what, 
pray, do we want with modern Ritualism, and its 
scenic apparatus, and its priestly offices? Are these 
things designed to eke out the insufficiency of Christ ? 
Will they recommend Him better than His own gospel 
and the pure influence of His Spirit avail to do in these 
latter days ? Or has modern thought, to be sure, 
and the progress of the 19th century carried us be- 
yond Jesus Christ, and created spiritual wants for 
which He has no supply ? Paul at least had no 
anticipation of this failure. All the need of hungry 
human hearts and searching minds and sorrowing 
spirits, to the world's latest ages, the God of Paul, the 
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is able to supply in 
Him. " We are complete in Him," — if we but knew our 
completeness. The most advanced thinkers of the age 
will still find Jesus Christ in advance of them. Those 
who draw the most largely from His fulness, leave its 
depths unsounded. There are resources stored for the 
times to come in the revelation of Christ, which our age 
is too slight, too hasty of thought, to comprehend. We 
are straitened in ourselves; never in Him. 

From this supreme gift we can argue down to the 
humblest necessities, the commonest trials of our daily 
lot. It adapts itself to the small anxieties of a strug- 
gling household, equally with the largest demands of 
our exacting age. " Thou hast given us Thy Son," 
says some one, "and wilt Thou not give us bread?" 
We have a generous Lord. His only complaint is that 

i. 3-5-1 THE SALUTATION. *5 

we do not ask enough. " Ye are My friends/' He says : 
" I have given My life for you. Ask what ye will, and 
it shall be done unto you." Giving us Himself, He 
has given us all things. Abraham and Moses, David 
and Isaiah, "Paul and Apollos and Cephas — yea the 
world itself, ,life and death, things present and to come — 
all are ours ; and we are Christ's and Christ is God's " 
(i Cor. hi. 22, 23). Such is the chain of blessing that 
hangs on this single gift. 

Great as the gift is, it is not greater than our need. 
Wanting a Divine Son of man, human life remains a 
baffled aspiration, a pathway leading to no goal. Lack- 
ing Him, the race is incomplete, a body without its 
head, a flock that has no master. By the coming of 
Christ in the flesh human life finds its ideal realized ; 
its haunting dream of a Divine helper and leader in the 
midst of men, of a spiritual and immortal perfection 
brought within its reach, has attained fulfilment " God 
hath raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house 
of His servant David ; as He spake by the mouth of 
His holy prophets, which have been since the world 
began." Jacob's vision has come true. There is the 
golden ladder, with its foot resting on the cold, stony 
earth, and its top on heaven's starry platform, with its 
angels ascending and descending through the darkness ; 
and you may climb its steps, high as you will 1 So 
humanity receives its crown of life. Heaven and earth 
are linked, God and man reunited in the person of 
Jesus Christ. 

But Paul will not suffer us to linger at Bethlehem. 
He hastens on to Calvary. The Atonement, not the 
Incarnation, is in his view the centre of Christianity. 
To the cross of Jesus, rather than to His cradle, he 
attaches our salvation. "Jesus Christ gave Himself" — 


what for, and in what way ? What was the errand 
that brought Him here, in such a guise, and at such a 
time ? Was it to meet our need, to fulfil our human 
aspirations, to crown the moral edifice, to lead the race 
onward to the goal of its development ? Yes — ultim- 
ately, and in the final issue, for " as many as receive 
Him"; it was to "present every man perfect in Christ" 
But that was not the primary object of His coming, of 
such a eoming. Happy for us indeed, and for Him, if 
it could have been so. To come to a world waiting 
for Him, hearkening for the cry, " Behold thy God, O 
Israel," would have been a pleasant and a fitting thing. 
But to find Himself rejected by His own, to be spit 
upon, to hear the multitude shout, " Away with Him 1 " 
was this the welcome that he looked for ? Yea surely, 
nothing else but this. For He gave Himself for our 
sins. He came to a world steeped in wickedness, 
seething with rebellion against God, hating Him be- 
cause it hated the Father that sent Him, sure to say 
as soon as it saw Him, "We will not have this man 
to reign over us." Not therefore by way of incarna- 
tion and revelation alone, as it might have been for an 
innocent race ; but by way of sacrifice, as a victim on 
the altar of expiation, "a lamb led to the slaughter,' 
He gave Himself up for us all. " To deliver us from 
an evil world," says the Apostle ; to mend a faulty and 
imperfect world, something less and other would have 

Extreme diseases call for extreme remedies. The 
case with which our good Physician had to deal was 
a desperate one. The world was sick at heart ; its 
moral nature rotting to the core. Human life was 
shattered to its foundation. If it was to be saved, if 
the race was to escape perdition, the fabric must be 

1.3-5] THE SALUTATION. vj 

reconstructed upon another basis, on the ground of a 
new righteousness, outside ourselves and yet akin to 
us, near enough to take hold of us and grow into us, 
which should draw to itself the broken elements of 
human life, and as a vital organic force refashion them, 
" creating " men " anew in Christ Jesus " — a righteous- 
ness availing before God, and in its depth and width 
sufficient to bear a world's weight. Such a new foun- 
dation Jesus Christ has laid in His death. " He laid 
down His life for us," the Shepherd for the sheep, the 
Friend for His perishing friends, the Physician for 
sufferers who had no other remedy. It had come to 
this, — either He must die, or we must die for ever. 
Such was the sentence of the All-wise Judge ; on that 
judgement the Redeemer acted. " His judgements are 
a great deep " ; and in this sentence there are depths 
of mystery into which we tremble to look, " secret 
things that belong unto the Lord our God." But so it 
was. There was no way but this, no moral possibility 
of saving the world, and yet saving Him the accursed 

If there had been, would not the Almighty Father 
have found it out ? would He not have " taken away 
the cup " from those white, quivering lips ? No ; He 
must die. He must consent to be " made sin, made 
a curse " for us. He must humble His stainless inno- 
cence, humble His glorious Godhead down to the dust 
of death. He must die, at the hands of the men He 
created and loved, with the horror of the world's sin 
fastened on Him ; die under a blackened heaven, under 
the averting of the Father's face. And He did it. He 
said, " Father, Thy will be done. Smite the Shepherd ; 
but let the sheep escape." So He "gave Himself for 


Ah, it was no easy march, no holiday pageant, the 
coming of the Son of God into this world of ours. lie 
" came to save sinners" Not to help good men — this 
were a grateful task ; but to redeem bad men — the 
hardest work in God's universe. It tasked the strength 
and the devotion of the Son of God. Witness Geth- 
semane. And it will cost His Church something, more 
haply than we dream of now, if the work of the 
Redeemer is to be made effectual, and " the travail of 
His soul satisfied." 

In pity and in sorrow was that gift bestowed; in 
deep humility and sorrow must it be accepted. It is 
a very humbling thing to " receive the atonement," to 
be made righteous on such terms as these. A man 
who has done well, can with satisfaction accept the 
help given him to do better. But to know that one has 
done very ill, to stand in the sight of God and truth 
condemned, marked with the disgrace that the cruci- 
fixion of the Son of God has branded on our human 
nature, with every stain of sin in ourselves revealed in 
the light of His sacrifice, is a sore abasement When 
one has been compelled to cry out, "Lord, save; or 
I perish 1" he has not much left to plume himself 
upon. There was Saul himself, a perfect moralist, 
" blameless in the righteousness of the law." Yet he 
must confess, " How to perform that which is good I 
find not In me, that is in my flesh, dwelleth no good 
thing. Wretch that I am, who shall deliver me ? " 
Was not this mortifying to the proud young Pharisee, 
the man of strict conscience and high-souled moral 
endeavour ? It was like death. And whoever has 
with sincerity made the same attempt to attain in the 
strength of his will to a true virtue, has tasted of this 


Thii however is what many cannot understand. 
The proud heart says, " No ; I will not stoop to that. 
I have my faults, my defects and errors, not a few. 
But as for what you call sin, as for guilt and inborn 
depravity, I am not going to tax myself with anything 
of the kind. Leave me a little self-respect." So with 
the whole herd of the self-complacent, half-religious 
Laodiceans. Once a week they confess themselves 
"miserable sinners," but their sins against God never 
yet cost them one half hour of misery. And Paul's 
" gospel is hid to them." If they read this Epistle, they 
cannot tell what it is all about; why Paul makes so 
much ado, why these thunderings of judgement, these 
cries of indignation, these beseechings and protestings 
and redoubled arguments, — all because a parcel of 
foolish Galatians wanted to play at being Jews I They 
are inclined to think with Festus, that this good Paul 
was a little beside himself. Alas I to such men, content 
with the world's good opinion and their own, the death 
of Christ is made of none effect. Its moral grandeur, 
its infinite pathos, is lost upon them. They pay it a 
conventional respect, but as for believing in it, as for 
making it their own, and dying with Christ to live in 
Him — they have no idea what it means. That, they 
will tell you, is " mysticism," and they are practical 
men of the world. They have never gone out of them- 
selves, never discovered their moral insufficiency. 
These are they of whom Jesus said, " The publicans 
and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before 
you." It is our human independence, our moral self- 
conceit, that robs us of the Divine bounty. How 
should God give His righteousness to men so well 
furnished with their own ? " Blessed " then " are the 
poor in spirit " ; blessed are the broken in heart — poor 


enough, broken enough, bankrupt enough to stoop to 
a Saviour " who gave Himself for our sins." 

II. Sinful men have made an evil world. The world, 
as Paul knew it, was evil indeed. " The existing evil 
age," he says, the world as it then was, in contrast with 
the glory of the perfected Messianic kingdom. 

This was a leading distinction of the rabbinical 
schools ; and the writers of the New Testament adopt it ( 
with the necessary modification, that "the coming age," 
in their view, commences with the Parousia, the full 
advent of the Messiah King.* The period that inter- 
venes since His first appearing is transitional, be- 
longing to both eras. It is the conclusion of " this 
world," f to which it appertains in its outward and 
material relations ; } but under the perishing form of 
the present there lies hidden for the Christian believer 
the seed of immortality, " the earnest " of his future 
and complete inheritance. § Hence the different and 
seemingly contradictory ways in which Scripture speaks 
of the world that now is. 

To Paul at this time the world wore its darkest 
aspect. There is a touching emphasis in the order of 
this clause. " The present world, evil as it is : " the 
words are a sigh for deliverance. The Epistles to 
Corinth show us how the world just now was using the 
Apostle. The wonder is that one man could bear so 
much. " We are made as the filth of the world," he 
says, " the offscouring of all things." [| So the world 
treated its greatest living benefactor. And as for his 

• 2 Thess. i. 5—7 ; 2 Tim. iv. 18 ; Heb. x. 12, 13 ; I Pet t. 10. 

'f 1 Cor. x. II ; Heb. ix. 26. 

X 1 Cor. vii. 31 ; 1 John ii. 17. 

§ Rom. viii. 18 ; Eph. i. 13, 14. 

I 1 Cor. iv. 9—13 ; xv. 30, 32 ; 2 Cor. yi. 4, 10; xL 16, 33. 

i-3'5] THE SALUTATION. 31 

Master — " the princes of this world crucified the Lord 
of glory." Yes, it was a bad old world, that in which 
Paul and the Galatians lived — false, licentious, cruel. 
And that " evil world " still exists. 

True, the world, as we know it, is vastly better than 
that of Paul's day. Not in vain have Apostles taught, 
and martyrs bled, and the Church of Christ witnessed 
and toiled through so many ages. " Other men have 
laboured; we enter into their labours." An English 
home of to-day is the flower of the centuries. To 
those cradled in its pure affections, endowed with 
health and honourable work and refined tastes, the 
world must be, and was meant to be, in many aspects 
a bright and pleasant world. Surely the most sorrow- 
ful have known days in which the sky was all sunshine 
and the very air alive with joy, when the world looked 
as when it came forth fresh from its Creator's hand, 
" and behold, it was very good." There is nothing in 
the Bible, nothing in the spirit of true religion to damp 
the pure joy of such days as these. But there are 
" the days of darkness ; " and they are many. The 
Serpent has crept into our Paradise. Death breathes 
on it his fatal blast. 

And when we look outside the sheltered circles of 
home-life and Christian brotherhood, what a sea of 
misery spreads around us. How limited and partial 
is the influence of religion. What a mass of unbelief 
and godlessness surges up to the doors of our sanc- 
tuaries. What appalling depths of iniquity exist in 
modern society, under the brilliant surface of our 
material civilization. And however far the dominance 
of sin in human society may be broken — as, please God, 
it shall be broken, still evil is likely to remain in many 
tempting and perilous forms until the world is burnt to 


ashes in the fires of the Last Judgement. Is it not an 
evil world, where every morning newspaper serves up 
to us its miserable tale of disaster and of crime, where 
the Almighty's name is " all the day blasphemed," and 
every night drunkenness holds its horrid revels and 
the daughters of shame walk the city streets, where 
great Christian empires tax the pcor man's bread and 
make his life bitter to maintain their huge standing 
armies and their cruel engines of war, and where, in 
this happy England and its cities teeming with wealth, 
there are thousands of patient, honest working women, 
whose life under the fierce stress of competition is a 
veritable slavery, a squalid, dreary struggle just to keep 
hunger from the door ? Ay, it is a world so evil that 
no good and right-thinking man who knows it, would 
care to live in it for a single day, but for the hope of 
helping to make it better. 

Now it was the purpose of Jesus Christ, that for 
those who believe in Him this world's evil should be 
brought absolutely to an end. He promises a full 
deliverance from all that tempts and afflicts us here. 
With sin, the root of evil, removed, its bitter fruits at 
last will disappear. We shall rise to the life immortal. 
We shall attain our perfect consummation and bliss 
both in body and soul. Kept from the evil of the 
world while they remain in it, enabled by His grace to 
witness and contend against it, Christ's servants shall 
then be lifted clean out for it of ever. " Father, I 
will," prayed Jesus, " that they also whom Thou hast 
given Me, may be with Me where I am." To that 
final salvation, accomplished in the redemption of our 
body and the setting up of Christ's heavenly kingdom, 
the Apostle's words look forward : " that He might 
deli Tec us out of this present evil world." This was 

i. 3-5-3 THE SALUTATION. 33 

the splendid hope which Paul offered to the dying and 
despairing world of his day. The Galatians were 
persuaded of it and embraced it ; he entreats them not 
to let it go. 

The self-sacrifice of Christ, and the deliverance it 
brings, are both, the Apostle concludes, " according to 
the will of God, even our Father." The wisdom and 
might of the Eternal are pledged to the work of human 
redemption. The cross of Jesus Christ is the mani- 
festo of Infinite Love. Let him therefore who rejects 
it, know against Whom he is contending. Let him 
who perverts and falsifies it, know with what he is 
trifling. He who receives and obeys it, may rest 
assured that all things are working for his good. For 
all things are in the hands of our God and Father; 
" to Whom," let us say with Paul, " be glory for ever. 



"I marvel that ye are so quickly removing from him that called yon 
in the grace of Christ unto a different gospel ; which is not another 
gospel : only there are some that trouble you, arid would pervert the 
gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, should 
preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto 
you, let him be anathema. As we have said before, so say I now again, 
If any man preacheth unto you any gospel other than that which ye 
received, let him be anathema. For am I now persuading men, or 
God? or am I seeking to please men? if I were still pleasing men, I 
should not be a servant of Christ." — Gal. i. 6 — io. 

AFTER the Salutation in Paul's Epistles comes the 
Thanksgiving. Eu^a/no-nS or Ev\oyr)To<; — these 
are the words we expect first to meet. Even in writing 
to Corinth, where there was so much to censure and 
deplore, he begins, " I give thanks to my God always 
for you." This letter deviates from the Apostle's 
devout and happy usage. Not " I give thanks," but 
" I marvel ; " not blessing, but anathema is coming 
from his lips : a surprise that jars all the more upon 
one's ears, because it follows on the sublime doxology 
of the preceding verse. " I marvel to see you so 
quickly falling away to another gospel. . . . But if any 
one preach unto you any gospel other than that ye 
received — ay, though it were ourselves, or an angel 
from heaven — I have said once, and I say again, Let 
him be Anathema." 


These words were well calculated to startle the 
Galatians out of their levity. They are like a lightning- 
flash which shows one to be standing on the edge of 
a precipice. We see at once the infinite seriousness 
of the Judaic controversy, the profound gulf that lies 
between Paul and his opposers. He is for open war. 
He is in haste to fling his gage of defiance against 
these enemies of the cross. With all his tact and 
management, his readiness to consult the susceptibilities 
and accommodate the scruples of sincere consciences, 
the Apostle can find no room for conciliation here. He 
knows the sort of men he has to deal with. He per- 
ceives that the whole truth of the Gospel is at stake. 
Not circumstantials, but essentials; not his personal 
authority, but the honour of Christ, the doctrine of the 
cross, is involved in this defection. He must speak 
plainly ; he must act strongly, and at once ; or the 
cause of the Gospel is lost. "If I continued any longer 
to please men," he says, "I should not be a servant 
of Christ." To stand on terms with such opponents, 
to palter with this "other gospel," would be treason 
against Him. There is but one tribunal at which this 
quarrel can be decided. To Him " who had called " 
the Galatian believers " in Christ's grace," who by the 
same grace had called the Apostle to His service and 
given him the message he had preached to them — to 
God he appeals. In His name, and by the authority 
conferred upon him and for which he must give account, 
he pronounces these troublers " anathema." They are 
enemies of Christ, by their treachery excluded from 
His kingdom. 

However unwelcome, however severe the course tht 
Apostle takes, he has no alternative. " For now," he 
cries, " is it men that I persuade, or God?" He must 


do his duty, let who will condemn. Paul was ready 
to go all lengths in pleasing men in consistence with 
loyalty to Christ, where he could do it " for their good, 
unto edification." But if their approval clashed with 
God's, then it became " a very small thing : " * he did 
not heed it one jot. Such is the temper of mind which 
the Epistles to Corinth disclose in Paul at this juncture. 
In the same spirit he indites these trenchant and dis- 
pleasing words. 

With a heavy heart Paul has taken up his pen. If 
we judge rightly of the date of this letter, he had just 
passed through the darkest hour of his experience, 
when not his life alone, but the fate of his Gentile 
mission hung in the balance. His expulsion from 
Ephesus, coming at the same time as the Corinthian 
revolt, and followed by a prostrating attack of sickness, 
had shaken his soul to its depths. Never had his 
heart been so torn with anxiety, never had he felt 
himself so beaten down and discomfited, as on that 
melancholy journey from Ephesus to Macedonia, f 
"Out of anguish of heart and with many tears" and 
after-relentings (2 Cor. ii. 4; vii. 8) he wrote his First 
letter to Corinth. And this Epistle is even more severe. 
There runs through it a peculiar mental tension, an 
exaltation of feeling such as prolonged and deep suffer- 
ing leaves behind in a nature like Paul's. "The marks 
of Jesus " (ch. vi. 17) are visible, impressed on his 
spirit no less than on his body. The Apostle's heart 
is full to overflowing. Its warm glow is felt under the 
calmer course of narrative and argument : while at the 
beginning and end of the Epistle it breaks forth in 
language of burning indignation and melting pathos. 

• t Cor. iv. 3, 4 ; 2 Cor. v. 9—12 ; zii. 19. 

f 2 Cor. i. 8— 10; ii. 12, 13 ; iy. 8 — 11 ; vii. 5 — 7. 


Before advancing a single step, before entering on any 
sort of explanation or discussion, his grief at the fickle- 
ness of his Galatian children and his anger against 
their seducers must find expression. 

These sentences demand, before we proceed further, 
a few words of exegetical definition. For the reference 
of " so quickly " it is needless to go beyond the verb 
it qualifies. The Apostle cannot surely mean, " so 
soon falling away (after your conversion)." For the 
Galatian Churches had been founded five, if not seven, 
years before this time ; and the backsliding of recent 
converts is less, and not more, surprising than of 
established believers. What astonishes Paul is the 
suddenness of this movement, the facility with which 
the Galatians yielded to the Judaizing " persuasion," 
the rapid spread of this new leaven. As to the double 
"other" (erepov, different, R.V. — a\\o) of vv. 6 and 7, 
and the connection of the idiomatic " only " (el fitf, 
except), — we regard the second other as an abrupt cor- 
rection of the first ; while the only clause, extending to 
the end of ver. 7, mediates between the two, qualifying 
the statement " There is no other gospel," by showing 
in what sense the writer at first had spoken of 
" another." " Ye are falling away," says he, " to 
another sort of gospel — which is not another, except 
that there are certain that trouble you and would fain 
pervert the gospel of Christ." The word gospel is 
therefore in the first instance applied ironically. Paul 
yields the sacred title up to his opponents, only to 
snatch it out of their false hands. " Another gospel I 
there is only one ; although there are men that falsify 
it, and seek to foist something else upon you in its 
name." Seven times in this context (vv. 6 — 11) does 
the Apostle reiterate, in noun or verb, this precious 


word, as though he could not let it go. A strange sort 
of " good news " for the Galatians, that they must be 
circumcised forsooth, and observe the Jewish Kalendarl 
(ch. v. 2, 3; vi. 12; iv. 9, 10.) 

I. In Paul's view, there is but one gospel for man- 
kind. The gospel of Jesus Christ bears a fixed, inviolable 

On this position the whole teaching of Paul rests, — 
and with it, may we not add, Christianity itself? 
However variously we may formulate the essentials of 
a Christian man's faith, we are generally agreed that 
there are such essentials, and that they are found in 
Paul's gospel to the Gentiles. With him the good tidings 
about Christ constituted a very definite and, as we 
should say, dogmatic body of truth. In whatever 
degree his gospel has been confused and overlaid by 
later teachings, to his own mind its terms were perfectly 
clear, and its authority incontestable. With all its 
breadth, there is nothing nebulous, nothing limp or 
hesitating about the theology of Paul. In its main 
doctrines it is fixed and hard as adamant ; and at the 
challenge of this Judaistic perversion it rings out an 
instant and peremptory denial. It was the ark of God 
on which the Jewish troublers laid their unholy hands. 
u Christ's grace" is lodged in it. God's call to mankind 
was conveyed by these " good tidings." The Churches 
which the Apostle had planted were " God's husbandry, 
God's building ; " and woe to the man who tampered 
with the work, or sought to lay another foundation 
than that which had been laid (1 Cor. iii. 5 — 11). To 
distort or mutilate "the word of the truth of the 
gospel," to make it mean now one thing and now 
another, to disturb the faith of half-instructed Chris- 
tians by captious reasonings and self-interested per- 

L 6-10.1 THE ANATHEMA. 39 

versions, was a capital offence, a sin against God and 
a crime against humanity. Paul possesses in his 
gospel truth of unspeakable value to mankind, the 
supreme revelation of God's mercy to the world. And 
he is prepared to launch his anathema against every 
wilful impugner, no matter what his pretensions, or 
the quarter from which he comes. 

" Well," it may be said, " this is sheer religious 
intolerance. Paul is doing what every dogmatist, every 
ecclesiastical bigot has done in his turn. His beliefs 
are, to be sure, the truth; and accordingly he unchurches 
and anathematizes those who cannot agree with him. 
With all his nobility of mind, there is in Paul a leaven 
of Jewish rancour. He falls short of the sweet reason- 
ableness of Jesus." So some will say, and in saying 
claim to represent the mild and tolerant spirit of our 
age. But is there not in every age an intolerance that 
is just and necessary ? There is a logical intolerance 
of sophistry and trifling. There is a moral intolerance 
of impurity and deceit. And there is a religious in- 
tolerance, which includes both these and adds to them 
a holy jealousy for the honour of God and the spiritual 
welfare of mankind. It is mournful indeed to think 
how many crimes have been perpetrated under the 
cloak of pious zeal. Tantum Religio potuit suadere 
malorum. The corruption of Christianity by human 
pride and cruelty has furnished copious illustrations of 
the terrible line of Lucretius. But the perversion of 
this noblest instinct of the soul does not take away 
either its reasonableness or its use. The quality of 
a passion is one thing ; the mode of its expression 
is another. The hottest fires of bigotry are cold when 
compared with the scorching intolerance of Christ's 
denunciations of the Pharisees. The anathemas of 


Jesus and of Paul are very different from those of 
arrogant pontiffs, or of narrow sectaries, inflamed with 
the idolatry of their own opinions. After all, the zeal 
of the rudest fanatic in religion has more in it of manly 
worth and moral capability than the languors of a 
blase" scepticism, that sits watching with amused con- 
tempt the strife of creeds and the search of human 
hearts after the Living God. There is an idle, listless, 
cowardly tolerance, as there is an intolerance that is 
noble and just. 

The one gospel has had many interpreters. Their 
voices, it must be confessed, sound strangely dis- 
cordant. While the teachings of Christianity excite 
so intensely a multitude of different minds, of ever) 
variety of temper and capacity, contradiction will 
inevitably arise. Nothing is easier than to scoff at 
"the Babel of religious opinions." Christian truth is 
necessarily refracted and discoloured in passing through 
disordered natures and defective minds. And, alas, 
that Church which claims to hold the truth without 
possibility of error or variation, has perverted Christ's 
gospel most of all. 

But notwithstanding all differences, there exists 
a large and an increasing measure of agreement 
amongst the great body of earnest Christians. Slowly, 
yet surely, one debate after another comes to its settle- 
ment. The noise and publicity with which discussion 
on matters of faith is carried on in an age of religious 
freedom, and when liberty of thought has outrun 
mental discipline, should not lead us to exaggerate the 
extent of our disagreements. In the midst of human 
controversy and error, the Spirit of truth is carrying on 
His work. He is the supreme witness of Jesus Christ. 
And He abides with us for ever. The newly awakened 

1.6-iq. THE ANATHEMA. 

historical conscience of our times is visibly making for 
unity. The Church is going back to the New Testament. 
And the more thoroughly she does this, the more 
directly and truthfully she addresses herself to the 
original record and comes face to face with Christ and His 
Apostles there, so much the more shall we realize the 
oneness and certainty of " the faith once delivered to 
the saints." Beneath the many superstructures, faulty 
and changing in their form, we reach the one " founda- 
tion of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself 
being the chief corner-stone." There we touch solid 
rock. " The unity of the faith " lies in " the knowledge 
of the Son of God." Of Him we shall learn most from 
those who knew Him best. Let us transport ourselves 
into the fellowship of His first disciples ; and listen to< 
His gospel as it came fresh from the lips of Peter and 
John and Paul, and the Divine Master Himself. Let 
us bid the voices of the centuries be silent, that we 
may hear Him. 

For the Galatian readers, as for Paul, there could 
be but one gospel. By his voice the call of God had 
reached their hearts, (ver. 6 ; ch. v. 8). The witness of 
the Spirit of God and of Christ in the supernatural 
gifts they had received, and in the manifold fruit of a 
regenerate life (ch. iii. 2 — 5 ; v. 22, 23), was evidence to 
them that the Apostle's message was " the true gospel 
of the grace of God." This they had gratefully 
acknowledged at the time of his first visit (ch. iv. 1 5). 
The proclamation of the crucified and risen Christ had 
brought to them unspeakable blessing. Through it 
they received the knowledge of God ; they were made 
consciously sons of God, heirs of life eternal (ch. iii. 26 ; 
iv. 6 — 9 ; vi. 8). To entertain any other gospel, after 
this experience and all these professions, was an act of 


apostasy. " Ye are deserting (like runaway soldiers), 
turning renegades from God : " such is the language in 
which Paul taxes his readers. In listening to the 
persuasion of the Judaists, they were " disobeying the 
truth " (ch. v. 7, 8). They were disloyal to conscience ; 
they were trifling with the most sacred convictions of 
their lives, and with the testimony of the Spirit of God. 
They were forgetting the cross of Christ, and making 
His death of none effect. Surely they must have been 
" bewitched " to act thus ; some deadly spell was upon 
them, which had laid memory and conscience both to 
sleep (ch. ii. 21 — iii. 3). 

The nature and the contents of the two " gospels " 
current in Galatia will be made clear in the further 
course of the Epistle. They were the gospels of 
Grace and of Law respectively ; of Salvation by Faith, 
and by Works ; of life in the Spirit, and in the Flesh ; 
of the Cross and the Resurrection on the one hand 
and of Circumcision and the Kalendar and " Clean 
meats" on the other; the gospels of inwardness, and 
of externalism — of Christ, and of self. The conflict 
between these two was the great struggle of Paul's life. 
His success was, historically speaking, the salvation of 

But this contention did not end with his victory. 
The Judaistic perversion appealed to tendencies too 
persistent in our nature to be crushed at one blow. 
The gospel of externalism is dear to the human heart. 
It may take the form of culture and moralities ; or of 
" services " and sacraments and churchly order ; or of 
orthodoxy and philanthropy. These and such things 
make themselves our idols ; and trust in them takes 
the place of faith in the living Christ. It is not enough 
that the eyes of our heart should once have seen the 

i.6-ia] THE ANATHEMA. 43 

Lord, that we should in other days have experienced 
" the renewing of the Holy Ghost." It is possible to 
forget, possible to " remove from Him that called us 
in the grace of Christ." With little change in the form 
of our religious life, its inward reality of joy in God, 
of conscious sonship, of fellowship in the Spirit, may 
be utterly departed. The gospel of formalism will 
spring up and flourish on the most evangelical soil, 
and in the most strictly Pauline Churches. Let it be 
banned and barred out never so completely, it knows 
how to find entrance, under the simplest modes of 
worship and the soundest doctrine. The serried 
defence of Articles and Confessions constructed against 
it will not prevent its entrance, and may even prove 
its cover and intrenchment. Nothing avails, as the 
Apostle says, but a constant "new creation." The 
life of God in human souls is sustained by the energy 
of His Spirit, perpetually renewed, ever proceeding from 
the Father and the Son. " The life that I live in the 
flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved 
me and gave Himself for me." This is the true 
orthodoxy. The vitality of his personal faith in Christ 
kept Paul safe from error, faithful in will and intellect 
to the one gospel. 

II. We have still to consider the import of the 
judgement pronounced by Paul upon those who pervert 
the gospel of Christ. " Let him be anathema. Even 
should it be ourselves, or an angel from heaven, let him 
be anathema." 

These are tremendous words. Commentators have 
been shocked at the Apostle's damning his opponents 
after this fashion, and have sought to lighten the weight 
of this awful sentence. It has been sometimes toned 
down into an act of excommunication or ecclesiastical 


censure. But this explanation will not hold, Paul 
could not think of subjecting " an angel " to a penalty 
like that. He pronounced excommunication against 
disorderly members of the Thessalonian Church ; and 
in I Cor. v. I — 8 he gives directions for the carrying 
out of a similar decree, attended with severe bodily 
affliction supernaturally adjudged, against a sinner 
whose presence grossly stained the purity of the Church. 
But this sentence goes beyond either of those. It 
contemplates the exclusion of the offenders from the 
Covenant of grace, their loss of final salvation. 

Thrice besides has Paul used this ominous word. 
The cry " Jesus is anathema," in I Cor. xii. 3, reveals 
with a lurid effect the frenzied malignity towards Christ 
of which the spirit of evil is sometimes capable. In 
a very different connection the word appears in Rom. 
ix. 3 ; where Paul " could wish himself anathema from 
Christ," if that were possible, for his brethren's sake ; 
he could find it in his heart to be cut off for ever from 
that love of God in Christ of which he has just spoken 
in terms of unbounded joy and confidence (Rom. viii. 
31 — 39), and banished from the heavenly kingdom, if 
through his exclusion his Jewish kindred might be 
saved. Self-sacrifice can go no further. No heavier 
loss than this could be conceived for any human being. 
Nearest to our passage is the imprecation at the end of 
1 Corinthians : " If any man love not the Lord, let him 
be anathema," — a judgement proclaimed against cold 
and false hearts, knowing His love, bearing His name, 
but with no true love to Him. 

This Greek word in its Biblical use has grown out of 
the cherem of the Old Testament, the ban declared 
against that which was cut off from the Divine mercies 
and exposed to the full sweep of judgement. Thus ix 

i.6-ia] THE ANATHEMA. 4S 

Deut. xiii. 12 — 18, the city whose people should "go 
and serve other gods," is declared che'rem (anathema), 
an "accursed," or "devoted thing" (R.V.), on which 
ensues its destruction by sword and fire, leaving it to 
remain "a ruin-heap for ever." Similarly in Joshua 
vi., vii., the spoil of Jericho is anathema, Achan's theft is 
therefore anathema, and Israel is made by it anathema 
until "the accursed thing is destroyed" from among 
the people. Such were the recollections -sssociated 
with this word in the Mosaic law, which it would in- 
evitably carry with it to the minds of those against 
whom it was now directed. And there is nothing in 
later Jewish usage to mitigate its force. 

Now the Apostle is not writing like a man in a 
passion, who flings out his words as missiles, eager 
only to wound and confound his opponents. He 
repeats the sentence. He quotes it as one that he 
had already affirmed in the hearing of his readers. 
The passage bears the marks of well-weighed thought 
and judicial solemnity. In pronouncing this judge- 
ment on " the troublers," Paul acts under the sense 
of Apostolic responsibility. We must place the 
sentence in the same line as that of Peter against 
Ananias and Sapphira, and of Paul himself against 
Elymas the Cypriot sorcerer, and against the incestuous 
Corinthian. In each case there is a supernatural 
insight and authorization, "the authority which the 
Lord gave" and which is wielded by His inspired 
Apostle. The exercise of this judicial function was one 
of " the signs of the Apostle." This was the proof ol 
" Christ speaking in him " which Paul was so loth to 
give at Corinth,* but which at this crisis of his ministry 

• 2 Cor. x. 1— II ; xiii. I — IO ; I Cor. iv 18— 21. 


he was compelled to display. And if he "reckons to 
be bold against " his adversaries in Galatia, he knows 
well the ground on which he stands. 

His anathema struck at men who were the worst 
enemies of Christ. " We can do nothing against the 
truth," he says ; " but for the truth " he was ready to 
do and dare everything, — to " come with a rod," as he 
tells the proud Corinthians. There was no authority, 
however lofty, that he was not warranted to use on 
Christ's behalf, no measure, however severe, from which 
he would shrink, if it were required in defence of the 
truth of the Gospel. " He possesses weapons, not 
fleshly, but mighty through God " ; and he is prepared 
to bring them all into play rather than see the gospel 
perverted or overthrown. Paul will hurl his anathema 
at the prince of the archangels, should He come 
" preaching another gospel," tempting his children from 
their allegiance to Christ. This bolt was not shot a 
moment too soon. Launched against the legalist 
conspiracy, and followed up by the arguments of 
this and the Roman Epistle, it saved the Church 
from being overpowered by reactionary Judaism. The 
Apostle's judgement has marked the gospel of the 
cross for all time as God's inviolable truth, guarded by 

The sentences of judgement pronounced by the 
Apostles present a striking contrast to those that have 
fulminated from the Chair of their self-styled successors. 
In the Canons of the Council of Trent, for example, we 
have counted one hundred and thirty-five anathemas. 
A large proportion of these are concerned with the 
rights of the priesthood ; others with complicated and 
secondary points of doctrine ; some are directed virtually 
against the teaching of Paul himself. Here is one 

L6-IO.] THE ANAl^HEMA. «f 

specimen : " If any one shall say that justifying faith is 
nothing else but a trus't in the Divine mercy, remitting 
sins for Christ's sake, or that it is this trust alone by 
which we are justified: let him be anathema." * Again, 
" If any one shall say that the Canon of the Mass 
contains errors, and therefore should be abrogated : let 
him be anathema." f In the closing session, the final 
act of the presiding Cardinal was to pronounce, 
"Anathema to all heretics;" to which the assembled 
prelates shouted in response, " Anathema, anathema." 
With this imprecation on their lips the Fathers of the 
Church concluded their pious labours. It was the Re- 
formation, it was " the liberty of the sons of God " that 
Rome anathematized. Paul's censure holds good against 
all the Conciliar Canons and Papal Bulls that con- 
travene it. But twice has he pronounced this awful 
word ; once against any that " love not the Lord," a 
second time upon those who wilfully pervert His 
gospel. The Papal anathemas sound like the maledic- 
tions of an angry priesthood, jealous for its prerogatives; 
here we have the holy severity of an inspired Apostle, 
concerned only for the truth, and for his Master's 
honour. There speaks the conscious " lord over God's 
heritage," wearing the triple crown, wielding the powers 
of Interdict and Inquisition, whose word sets armies in 
motion and makes kings tremble on their seats. Here 
a feeble, solitary man, " his bodily presence weak, his 
speech contemptible," hunted from place to place, 
scourged and stoned, shut up for years in prison, who 
could not, except for love's sake, command the meanest 
service. How conspicuous in the one case, how want- 
ing in the other, is the might of the Spirit and the 

• Session vi., Can. xiL t Session xxii., Can. vL 


dignity of the inspired word, the transcendence of 
moral authority. 

It is the moral conduct of those he judges that 
determines in each case the sentence passed by the 
Apostle. For a man knowing Jesus Christ, as we 
presume the members of the Corinthian Church did 
know Him, not to love Him, argues a bad heart. Must 
not we count ourselves accursed, if with our knowledge 
of Christ we had no love for Him ? Such a man is 
already virtually anathema. He is severed as a branch 
from its vine, ready to be gathered for the burning 
(John xv. 6). And these Galatian disturbers were 
something worse than mere mistaken enthusiasts for 
their native Jewish rites. Their policy was dishonour- 
able (ch. iv. 17). They made the gospel of Christ sub- 
servient to factious designs. They sought to win 
credit with their fellow-countrymen and to escape the 
reproach of the cross by imposing circumcision on the 
Gentiles (ch. ii. 4; vi. 12, 13). They prostituted religion 
to selfish and party purposes. They sacrificed truth to 
popularity, the glory of Christ and the cross to their 
own. They were of those whom the Apostle describes 
as "walking in craftiness and handling the word of 
God deceitfully," who " traffic " in the gospel, peddling 
with it as with petty wares, cheapening and adultera- 
ting it like dishonest hucksters to make their own 
market by it (2 Cor. ii. 17 ; iv. 2). Did not Paul do 
well to smite them with the rod of his mouth ? Justly 
has he marked with the brand of this fiery anathema 
the false minister, " who serves not the Lord Christ, 
but his own belly." 

But does this declaration preclude in such a case the 
possibility of repentance ? We trow not. It declares 
the doom which is due to any, be he man or angel, who 

i. 6-10. J THE ANATHEMA. 49 

should do what these "trou biers" are doing. It is a 
general sentence, and has for the individuals concerned 
the effect of a warning, like the announcement made 
concerning the Traitor at the Last Supper. However 
unlikely repentance might be in either instance, there 
is nothing to forbid it So when Peter said to Simon 
Magus, "Thy money perish with thee I" he neverthe- 
less continued, " Repent, therefore, of this thy wicked- 
ness, and pray the Lord, if perhaps the thought of thy 
heart shall be forgiven thee" (Acts viii. 20 — 22). To 
his worst opponents, on any sign of contrition, Paul, 
we may be sure, would have gladly said the same. 

Chapter i. II— & si. 



"For I make known to you, brethren, as touching the gospel 
which was preached by me, that it is not after man. For neither did I 
receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came to me through 
revelation of Jesus Christ. For ye have heard of my manner of life in 
time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted 
the church of God, and made havock of it : and I advanced in the 
Jews' religion beyond many of mine own age among my countrymen, 
being more exceedingly zsalous for the traditions of my fathers." 
— Gal. i. ii— 14. 

HERE the Epistle begins in its main purport. 
What has gone before is so much exordium. The 
sharp, stern sentences of vv. 6 — 10 are like the roll of 
artillery that ushers in the battle. The mists rise 
from the field. We see the combatants arrayed on 
either side. In due order and with cool self-command 
the Apostle proceeds to marshal and deploy his 
forces. His truthful narrative corrects the misrepre- 
sentations of his opponents, and repels their attack 
upon himself. His powerful dialectic wrests from 
their hands and turns against them their weapons of 
Scriptural proof. He wins the citadel of their position, 
by establishing the claim of the men of faith to be the 
sons of Abraham. On the ruins of confuted legalism 
he builds up an impregnable fortress for Christian 
liberty an immortal vindication of the gospel of the 
grace of God. 


The cause of Gentile freedom at this crisis was 
bound up with the person of the Apostle Paul. His 
Gospel and his Apostleship must stand or fall together. 
The former was assailed through the latter. He was 
himself just now " the pillar and stay of the truth." 
If his character had been successfully attacked and his 
influence destroyed, nothing, humanly speaking, could 
have saved Gentile Christendom at this decisive 
moment from falling under the assaults of Judaism. 
When he begins his crucial appeal with the words, 
" Behold, / Paul say unto you " (ch. v. 2), we feel that 
the issue depends upon the weight which his readers 
may attach to his personal affirmation. He pits his 
own truthfulness, his knowledge of Christ, his spiritual 
discernment and authority, and the respect due to 
himself from the Galatians, against the pretensions of 
the new teachers. The comparison is not indeed so 
open and express as that made in 2 Corinthians ; none 
the less it tacitly runs through this Epistle. Paul is 
compelled to put himself in the forefront of his argu- 
ment. In the eyes of his children in the faith, he is 
bound to vindicate his Apostolic character, defamed by 
Jewish malice and untruth. 

The first two chapters of this Epistle are therefore 
Paul's Apologia pro vita sua. With certain chapters in 
2 Corinthians, and scattered passages in other letters, 
they form the Apostle's autobiography, <>ne of the 
most perfect self-portraitures that literature contains. 
They reveal to us the man more effectively than 
any ostensible description could have done. They 
furnish an indispensable supplement to the external 
and cursory delineations given in the Acts of the 
Apostles. While Luke skilfully presents the outward 
framework of Paul's life and the events of his public 


career, it is to the Epistles that we turn — to none 
more frequently than this — for the necessary subjective 
data, for all that belongs to his inner character, his 
motives and principles. This Epistle brings into bold 
relief the Apostle's moral physiognomy. Above all, it 
throws a clear and penetrating light on the event 
which determined his career — the greatest event in the 
history of Christianity after the Day of Pentecost — 
Paul's conversion to faith in the Lord Jesus. 

This was at once the turning-point in the Apostle's 
life, and the birth-hour of his gospel. If the Galatians 
were to understand his teaching, they must understand 
this occurrence ; they must know why he became a 
Christian, how he had received the message which 
he brought to them. They would, he felt sure, enter 
more sympathetically into his doctrine, if they were 
better acquainted with the way in which he had 
arrived at it. They would see how well-justified was 
the authority, how needful the severity with which he 
writes. Accordingly he begins with a brief relation of 
the circumstances of his call to the service of Christ, 
and his career from the days of his Judaistic zeal, when 
he made havoc of the faith, till the well-known occa- 
sion on which he became its champion against Peter 
himself, the chief of the Twelve (ch. i. 1 1 — ii. 21.) His 
object in this recital appears to be threefold : to refute 
the misrepresentations of the Circumcisionists ; to 
vindicate his independent authority as an Apostle of 
Christ ; and further, to unfold the nature and terms of 
his gospel, so as to pave the way for the theological 
argument which is to follow, and which forms the body 
of the Epistle. 

I. Paul's gospel was supernaturally conveyed to him, 
by a personal intervention of Jesus Christ. Thi» 


assertion is the Apostle's starting-point. " My gospel 
is not after man. I received it as Jesus Christ revealed 
it to me." 

That the initial revelation was made to him by 
Christ in person, was a fact of incalculable importance 
for Paul. This had made him an Apostle, in the 
august sense in which he claims the title (ver. i). 
This accounts for the vehemence with which he defends 
his doctrine, and for the awful sentence which he has 
passed upon its impugners. The Divine authorship of 
the gospel he preached made it impossible for him 
to temporize with its perverters, or to be influenced 
by human favour or disfavour in its administration. 
Had his teaching been " according to man," he might 
have consented to a compromise ; he might reasonably 
have tried to humour and accommodate Jewish pre- 
judices. But the case is far otherwise. " I am not at 
liberty to please men," he says, "for my gospel comes 
directly from Jesus Christ" (vv. io, II). So he 
" gives " his readers " to know," as if by way of formal 

The gospel of Paul was inviolable, then, because 
of its superhuman character. And this character was 
impressed upon it by its superhuman origin : " not 
according to man, for neither from man did I receive 
it, nor was I taught it, but by a revelation of Jesus 
Christ." The Apostle's knowledge of Christianity did 
not come through the ordinary channel of tradition 
and indoctrination ; Jesus Christ had, by a miraculous 
interposition, taught him the truth about Himself. He 
says, " Neither did I" with an emphasis that points 
tacitly to the elder Apostles, whom he mentions a few 

* Comp. Rom. ix. 22 ; 1 Cor. xii. 3 ; xv. I ; 2 Cor. viii. I. 


sentences later (ver. 17). To this comparison his adver- 
saries forced him, making use of it as they freely did to 
his disparagement.* But it comes in by implication 
rather than direct assertion. Only by putting violence 
upon himself, and with strong expressions of his 
unworthiness, can Paul be brought to set his official 
claims in competition with those of the Twelve. Not- 
withstanding, it is perfectly clear that he puts his 
ministry on a level with theirs. He is no Apostle 
at second-hand, no disciple of Peter's or dependant 
of the " pillars " at Jerusalem. " Neither did I," he 
declares, " any more than they, take my instructions 
from other lips than those of Jesus our Lord." 

But what of this " revelation of Jesus Christ," on 
which Paul lays so much stress ? Does he mean a 
revelation made by Christ, or about Christ ? Taken 
by itself, the expression, in Greek as in English, bears 
either interpretation. In iavour of the second con- 
struction — viz. that Paul speaks of a revelation by 
which Christ was made known to him — the language 
of ver. 16 is adduced : "It pleased God to reveal His 
Son in me." Paul's general usage points in the same 
direction. With him Christ is the object of manifesta- 
tion, preaching, and the like. 2 Cor. xii. I is probably 
an instance to the contrary : " I will come to visions 
and revelations of the Lord." f But it should be 
observed that wherever this genitive is objective (a 
revelation revealing Christ), God appears in the con- 
text, just as in ver. 16 below, to Whom the authorship 
of the revelation is ascribed. In this instance, the 

* Seech, ii. 6 — 14 ; 1 Cor. i. 12 ; iii. 22 ; iv. 9 ; ix. 1 — 5 ; xv. 8 — 10. 

t This genitive is, however, open to the other construction, which 
is unquestionable in 1 Cor. i. 7 ; 2 Thess. i. 7 : also I Pet. L 7, 13. 
Rev. i. 1 furnishes a prominent example of the subjective genitive. 


gospel is the object revealed ; and Jesus Christ, in 
contrast with man, is claimed for its Author. So at 
the outset (ver. i) Christ, in His Divine character, was 
the Agent by whom Paul, as veritably as the Twelve, 
had received his Apostleship. We therefore assent to 
the ordinary view, reading this passage in the light of 
the vision of Jesus thrice related in the Acts.* We 
understand Paul to say that no mere man imparted to 
him the gospel he preached, but Jesus Christ revealed it. 

On the Damascus road the Apostle Paul found his 
mission. The vision of the glorified Jesus made him a 
Christian, and an Apostle. The act was a revelation — that 
is, in New Testament phrase, a supernatural, an imme- 
diately Divine communication of truth. And it was a 
revelation not conveyed in the first instance, as were 
the ordinary prophetic inspirations, through the Spirit ; 
"Jesus Christ," in His Divine-human person, made 
Himself known to His persecutor. Paul had "seen 
that Just One and heard a voice from His mouth." 

The appearance of Jesus to Saul of Tarsus was in 
itself a gospel, an earnest of the good tidings he was to 
convey to the world. " Why persecutest thou Me ? " 
that Divine voice said, in tones of reproach, yet of 
infinite pity. The sight of Jesus the Lord, meeting 
Saul's eyes, revealed His grace and truth to the perse- 
cutor's heart. He was brought in a moment to the 
obedience of faith ; he said, " Lord, what wilt Thou 
have me to do ? " He " confessed with his mouth the 
Lord Jesus" ; he "believed in his heart that God had 
raised Him from the dead." It was true, after all, that 
"God had made" the crucified Nazarene "both Lord 
and Christ ; " for this was He 1 

* Acts u. I— 19 ; xxii. 5 — 16 ; xxvL 12 — 18. 


The cross, which had been Saul's stumbling-block, 
deeply affronting his Jewish pride, from this moment 
was transformed. The glory of the exalted Redeemer 
cast back its light upon the tree of shame. The curse 
of the Law visibly resting upon Him, the rejection of 
men, marked Him out as God's chosen sacrifice for sin. 
This explanation at once presented itself to an instructed 
and keenly theological mind like Saul's, so soon as it 
was evident that Jesus was not accursed, as he had 
supposed, but approved by God. So Paul's gospel 
was given him at a stroke. Jesus Christ dying for our 
sins, Jesus Christ living to save and to rule — behold 
" the good news " 1 The Apostle had it on no less 
authority than that of the risen Saviour. From Him 
he received it to publish wide as the world. 

Thus Saul of Tarsus was born again. And with 
the Christian man, the Christian thinker, the theologian, 
was born in him. The Pauline doctrine has its root in 
Paul's conversion. It was a single, organic growth, the 
seed of which was this " revelation of Jesus Christ." 
Its creative impulse was given in the experience of the 
memorable hour, when " God who said, Light shall 
shine out of darkness, in the face of Jesus Christ 
shined " into Saul's heart. As the light of this reve- 
lation penetrated his spirit, he recognised, step by step, 
the fact of the resurrection, the import of the crucifixion, 
the Divinity of Jesus, His human mediatorship, the 
virtue of faith, the office of the Holy Spirit, the futility 
of Jewish ritual and works of law, and all the essential 
principles of his theology. Given the genius of Saul 
and his religious training, and the Pauline system of 
doctrine was, one might almost say, a necessary deduction 
from the fact of the appearance to him of the glorified 
Jesus. If that form of celestial splendour was Jesus, 


then He was risen indeed ; then He was the Christ ; 
He was, as He affirmed, the Son of God. If He was 
Lord and Christ, and yet died by the Father's will on 
the cross of shame, then His death could only be a 
propitiation, accepted by God, for the sins of men, 
whose efficacy had no limit, and whose merit left no 
room for legal works of righteousness. If this Jesus 
was the Christ, then the assumptions of Saul's Judaism, 
which had led him into blasphemous hatred and outrage 
towards Him, were radically false ; he will purge him- 
self from the " old leaven," that his life may become 
" a new lump." From that moment a world of life and 
thought began for the future Apostle, the opposite in 
all respects of that in which hitherto he had moved. 
" The old things," he cries, " passed away ; lo, they 
have become new" (2 Cor. v. 17). Paul's conversion 
was as complete as it was sudden. 

This intimate relation of doctrine and experience 
gives to Paul's teaching a peculiar warmth and fresh- 
ness, a vividness of human reality which it everywhere 
retains, despite its lofty intellectualism and the scholastic 
form in which it is largely cast. It is theology alive, 
trembling with emotion, speaking words like flames, 
forming dogmas hard as rock, that when you touch 
them are yet glowing with the heat of those central 
depths of the human spirit from which they were cast 
up. The collision of the two great Apostles at Antioch 
shows how the strength of Paul's teaching lay in his 
inward realization of the truth. There was life behind 
his doctrine. He was, and for the time the Jewish 
Apostle was not, acting and speaking out of the reality 
of spiritual conviction, of truth personally verified. Of 
the Apostle Paul above all divines the saying is true, 
Pectus facit theologum. And this personal knowledge 


of Christ, " the master light of all his seeing," began 
when on the way to Damascus his eyes beheld Jesus 
our Lord. His farewell charge to the Church through 
Timothy (2 Tim. i. 9 — 12), while referring to the general 
manifestation of Christ to the world, does so in language 
coloured by the recollection of the peculiar revelation 
made at the beginning to himself: "God," he says, 
" called us with a holy calling, according to His purpose 
and grace, which hath now been manifested by the 
appearing * of our Saviour Christ Jesus, who abolished 
death and brought life and immortality to light t 
through the gospel, whereunto / was appointed a 
preacher and apostle. For which cause I also suffer 
these things. But I am not ashamed : for I know Him 
in whom 1 have believed." This manifestation of the 
celestial Christ shed its brightness along all his path. 

II. His assertion of the Divine origin of his doctrine 
Paul sustains by referring to the previous course of his 
life There was certainly nothing in that to account 
for his preaching Christ crucified. " For you have 
heard," he continues, " of my manner of life aforetime, 
when I followed Judaism." 

Here ends the chain offors reaching from ver. 10 to 13 
— a succession of explanations linking Paul's denuncia- 
tion of the Christian Judaizers to the fact that he had 
himself been a violent anti-Christian Judaist. The seem- 
ing contradiction is in reality a consistent sequence. 
Only one who had imbibed the spirit of legalism as 
Saul of Tarsus had done, could justly appreciate the 
hostility of its principles to the new faith, and the 
sinister motives actuating the men who pretended to 

* ^Evapavela, a supernatural appearance, such as that of the Second 
f $wdf&>, comp. a Cor. iv, 6. 


reconcile them. Paul knew Judaism by heart. He 
understood the sort of men who opposed him in the 
Gentile Churches. And if his anathema appear need- 
lessly severe, we must remember that no one was so 
well able to judge of the necessities of the case as the 
man who pronounced it. 

"You have heard" — from whom? In the first 
instance, probably, from Paul himself. But on this 
matter, we may be pretty sure, his opponents would 
have something to say. They did not scruple to assert 
that he " still preached circumcision " * and played 
the Jew even now when it suited him, charging him 
with insincerity. Or they might say, " Paul is a 
renegade. Once the most ardent of zealots for Judaism, 
he has passed to the opposite extreme. He is a man 
you cannot trust. Apostates are proverbially bitter 
against their old faith." In these and in other ways 
Paul's Pharisaic career was doubtless thrown in his 

The Apostle sorrowfully confesses " that above 
measure he persecuted the Church of God and laid 
it waste." His friend Luke makes the same admission 
in similar language. \ There is no attempt to conceal 
or palliate this painful fact, that the famous Apostle of 
the Gentiles had been a persecutor, the deadliest enemy 
of the Church in its infant days. He was the very 
type of a determined, pitiless oppressor, the forerunner 
of the Jewish fanatics who afterwards sought his life, 
and of the cruel bigots of the Inquisition and the Star- 
chamber in later times. His restless energy, his 
indifference to the feelings of humanity in this work 
of destruction, were due to religious zeal. " I thought," 

* Ch. v. ii ; comp. I Cor. ix. 20; Act? xvi. 3 ; xxi. 20 — 26 ; xxiii. 6, 
f Acts vii 58 ; viii. I — 3 ; ix. 1. 


he says, " I ought to do many things contrary to the 
name of Jesus of Nazareth." In him, as in so many 
others, the saying of Christ was fulfilled : " The time 
cometh, when whoso killeth you will think that he is 
offering a sacrifice to God." These Nazarenes were 
heretics, traitors to Israel, enemies of God. Their 
leader had been crucified, branded with the extremest 
mark of Divine displeasure. His followers must perish. 
Their success meant the ruin of Mosaism. God willed 
their destruction. Such were Saul's thoughts, until he 
heard the protesting voice of Jesus as he approached 
Damascus to ravage His little flock. No wonder that 
he suffered remorse to the end of his days. 

Saul's persecution of the Church was the natural 
result of his earlier training, of the course to which in 
his youth he committed himself. The Galatians had 
heard also " how proficient he was in Judaism, beyond 
many of his kindred and age ; that he was surpassed 
by none in zeal for their ancestral traditions." His 
birth (Phil. iii. 4, 5), education (Acts xxii. 3), tempera- 
ment, circumstances, all combined to make him a zealot 
of the first water, the pink and pattern of Jewish 
orthodoxy, the rising hope of the Pharisaic party, and 
an instrument admirably fitted to crush the hated and 
dangerous sect of the Nazarenes. These facts go to 
prove, not that Paul is a traitor to his own people, still 
less that he is a Pharisee at heart, preaching Gentile 
liberty from interested motives ; but that it must have 
been some extraordinary occurrence, quite out of thte 
common run of human influences and probabilities, tha^t 
set him on his present course. What could have 
turned this furious Jewish persecutor all at once into 
the champion of the cross? What indeed but the 
revelation of Christ which he received at the Damascus 


gate ? His previous career up to that hour had been 
such as to make it impossible that he should have 
received his gospel through human means. The chasm 
between his Christian and pre-Christian life had only 
been bridged by a supernatural interposition of the 
mercy of Christ. 

Our modern critics, however, think that they know 
Paul better than he knew himself. They hold that the 
problem raised by this passage is capable of a natural 
solution. Psychological analysis, we are told, sets 
the matter in a different light. Saul of Tarsus had a 
tender conscience. Underneath his fevered and am- 
bitious zeal, there lay in the young persecutor's heart 
a profound misgiving, a mortifying sense of his 
failure, and the failure of his people, to attain the 
righteousness of the Law. The seventh chapter of 
his Epistle to the Romans is a leaf taken out of the 
inner history of this period of the Apostle's life. 
Through what a stern discipline the Tarsian youth had 
passed in these legal years ! How his haughty spirit 
chafed and tortured itself under the growing con- 
sciousness of its moral impotence ! The Law had 
been truly his Trcuharywyos (ch. iii. 24), a severe tutor, 
preparing him unconsciously " for Christ." In this 
state of mind such scenes as the martyrdom of Stephen 
could not but powerfully affect Saul, in spite of him- 
self. The bearing of the persecuted Nazarenes, the 
words of peace and forgiveness that they uttered under 
their sufferings, stirred questionings in his breast not 
always to be silenced. Self-distrust and remorse were 
secretly undermining the rigour of his Judaic faith. 
They acted like a "goad" (Acts xxvi. 14), against 
which he " kicked in vain." He rode to Damascus — a 
long and lonely journey — in a state of increasing dis- 


quiet and mental conflict. The heat and exhaustion of 
the desert march, acting on a nervous temperament 
naturally excitable and overwrought, hastened the crisis. 
Saul fell from his horse in an access of fever, or cata- 
lepsy. His brain was on fire. The convictions that 
haunted him suddenly took form and voice in the appari- 
tion of the glorified Jesus, whom Stephen in his dying 
moments had addressed. From that figure seemed to 
proceed the reproachful cry which the persecutor's con- 
science had in vain been striving to make him hear. A 
flash of lightning, or, if you like, a sunstroke, is readily 
imagined to fire this train of circumstances, — and the 
explanation is complete I When, besides, M. Renan is 
good enough to tell us that he has himself "experienced 
an attack of this kind at Byblos," and " with other 
principles would certainly have taken the hallucinations 
he then had for visions,"* what more can we desire? 
Nay, does not Paul himself admit, in ver. 16 of this 
chapter, that his conversion was essentially a spiritual 
and subjective event ? 

Such is the diagnosis of Paul's conversion offered us 
by rationalism ; and it is not wanting in boldness nor 
in skill But the corner-stone on which it rests, the 
hinge of the whole theory, is imaginary and in fatal 
contradiction with the facts of the case. Paul himself 
knows nothing of the remorse imputed to him previously 
to the vision of Jesus. The historian of the Acts knows 
nothing of it. In a nature so upright and conscien- 
tious as that of Saul, this misgiving would at least have 
induced him to desist from persecution. From first to 
last his testimony is, " I did it ignorantly, in unbelief." 
It was this ignorance, this absence of any sense of 

* Les Apdtres, p. 180, note I. 


wrong in the violence he used against the followers of 
Jesus, that, in his view, accounted for his " obtain- 
ing mercy" (i Tim. i. 13). If impressions of an 
opposite kind were previously struggling in his mind, 
with such force that on a mere nervous shock they were 
ready to precipitate themselves in the shape of an over- 
mastering hallucination, changing instantly and for ever 
the current of his life, how comes it that the Apostle 
has told us nothing about them ? That he should have 
forgotten impressions so poignant and so powerful, is 
inconceivable. And if he has of set purpose ignored, 
nay, virtually denied this all-important fact, what be- 
comes of his sincerity ? 

The Apostle was manifestly innocent of any such 
predisposition to Christian faith as the above theory 
imputes to him. True, he was conscious in those 
Judaistic days of his failure to attain righteousness, 
of the disharmony existing between " the law of his 
reason " and that which wrought " in his members." 
His conviction of sin supplied the moral precondition 
necessary in every case to saving faith in Christ. But 
this negative condition does not help us in the least to 
explain the vision of the glorified Jesus. By no psycho- 
logical process whatever could the experience of Rom. 
vii. 7 — 24 be made to project itself in such an appari- 
tion. With all his mysticism and emotional suscepti- 
bility, Paul's mind was essentially sane and critical. 
To call him epileptic is a calumny. No man so diseased 
could have gone through the Apostle's labours, or 
written these Epistles. His discussion of the subject 
of supernatural gifts, in I Cor. xii. and xiv., is a 
model of shrewdness and good sense. He had ex- 
perience of trances and ecstatic visions ; and he knew, 
perhaps as well as M. Renan, how to distinguish them 


from objective realities.* The manner in which he 
speaks of this appearance allows of no reasonable doubt 
as to the Apostle's full persuasion that "in sober 
certainty of waking sense" he had seen Jesus our 

It was this sensible and outward revelation that led 
to the inward revelation of the Redeemer to his soul, of 
which Paul goes on to speak in ver. 16. Without the 
latter the former would have been purposeless and 
useless. The objective vision could only have revealed 
a "Christ after the flesh," had it not been the means of 
opening Saul's closed heart to the influence of the Spirit 
of Christ. It was the means to this, and in the given 
circumstances the indispensable means. 

To a history that "knows no miracles," the Apostle 
Paul must remain an enigma. His faith in the crucified 
Jesus is equally baffling to naturalism with that of the 
first disciples, who had laid Him in the grave. When 
the Apostle argues that his antecedent relations to 
Christianity were such as to preclude his conversion 
having come about by natural human means, we are 
bound to admit both the sincerity and the conclusive- 
ness of his appeal. 

• I Cor. xiv. 18 ; 2 Cor. xii. 1—6 ; Acts xvi. 9 ; xviii. 8, 9 ; xxii. iy, 18. 



"But when it was the good pleasure of God, who separated me, even 
from my mother's womb, and called me through His grace, to reveal 
His Son in me, that I mig'nt preach Him among the Gentiles ; imme- 
diately I conferred not with flesh and blood : neither went I up to 
Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me : but I went away 
into Arabia ; and again I returned unto Damascus." — Gal. i. 15 — 17. 

TT pleased God to reveal His Son in me : this is after 
all the essential matter in Paul's conversion, as in 
that of every Christian. The outward manifestation of 
Jesus Christ served in his case to bring about this 
result, and was necessary to qualify him for his 
extraordinary vocation. But of itself the supernatural 
vision had no redeeming virtue, and gave Saul of 
Tarsus no message of salvation for the world. Its 
glory blinded and prostrated the persecutor; his heart 
might notwithstanding have remained rebellious and 
unchanged. " I am Jesus," said the heavenly Form, — 
" Go, and it shall be told thee what thou shalt do " ; — 
that was all 1 And that was not salvation. " Even 
though one rose from the dead," still it is possible not 
to believe. And faith is possible in its highest degree, 
and is exercised to-day by multitudes, with no celestial 
light to illumine, no audible voice from beyond the 
grave to awaken. The sixteenth verse gives us the 
inward counterpart of that exterior revelation in which 


Paul's knowledge of Christ had its beginning, — but 
only its beginning. 

The Apostle does not surely mean by "in me," in 
my case, through me (to others). This gives a sense 
true in itself, and expressed by Paul elsewhere (ver. 24 ; 
1 Tim. i. 16), but unsuitable to the word " reveal," and 
out of place at this point of the narrative. In the next 
clause — " that I might preach Him among the Gentiles " 
— we learn what was to be the issue of this revelation 
for the world. But in the first place it was a Divine 
certainty within the breast of Paul himself. His Gentile 
Apostleship rested upon the most assured basis of 
inward conviction, upon a spiritual apprehension of the 
Redeemer's person. He says, laying emphasis on the 
last two words, " to reveal His Son within me." So 
Chrysostom : Why did he not say to me t but in me ? 
Showing that not by words alone he learned the things 
concerning faith ; but that he was also filled with the 
abundance of the Spirit, the revelation shining through 
his very soul; and that he had Christ speaking in himself. 

I. The substance of Paul's gospel was, therefore, given 
him by the unveiling of the Redeemer to his heart. 

The "revelation " of ver. 16 takes up and completes 
that of ver. 12. The dazzling appearance of Christ 
before his eyes and the summons of His voice addressed 
to Saul's bodily ears formed the special mode in which 
it pleased God to "call him by His grace." But 
" whom He called, He also justified." In this further 
act of grace salvation is first personally realised, and 
the gospel becomes the man's individual possession. 
This experience ensued upon the acceptance of the fact 
that the crucified Jesus was the Christ. But this was 
by no means all. As the revelation penetrated further 
into the Apostle's soul, he began to apprehend its 


deeper significance. He knew already that the 
Nazarene had claimed to be the Son of God, and on 
that ground had been sentenced to death by the 
Sanhedrim. His resurrection, now a demonstrated 
fact, showed that this awful claim, instead of being 
condemned, was acknowledged by God Himself. The 
celestial majesty in which He appeared, the sublime 
authority with which He spoke, witnessed to His 
Divinity. To Paul equally with the first Apostles, He 
"was declared Son of God in power, by the resur- 
rection of the dead." But this persuasion was borne 
in upon him in his after reflections, and could not 
be adequately realised in the first shock of his great 
discovery. The language of this verse throws no sort 
of suspicion on the reality of the vision before Damascus. 
Quite the opposite. The inward presupposes the 
outward. Understanding follows sight. The subjective 
illumination, the inward conviction of Christ's Divinity, 
in Paul's case as in that of the first disciples, was 
brought about by the appearance of the risen, Divine 
Jesus. That appearance furnishes in both instances 
the explanation of the astounding change that took 
place in the men. The heart full of blasphemy against 
His name has learnt to own Him as " the Son of God, 
who loved me and gave Himself for me." Through 
the bodily eyes of Saul of Tarsus the revelation of 
Jesus Christ had entered and transformed his spirit. 

Of this interior revelation the Holy Spirit, according 
to the Apostle's doctrine, had been the organ. The 
Lord on first meeting the gathered Apostles after His 
resurrection " breathed upon them, saying, Receive ye 
the Holy Ghost " (John xx. 22). This influence was 
in truth " the power of His resurrection " ; it was the 
inspiring breath of the new life of humanity issuing 

i. 1 5- 1 7. J PAUL'S DIVINE COMMISSION. 71 

from the open grave of Christ. The baptism of 
Pentecost, with its " mighty rushing wind," was but 
the fuller effusion of the power whose earnest the 
Church received in that gentle breathing of peace on 
the day of the resurrection. By His Spirit Christ 
made Himself a dwelling in the hearts of His disciples, 
raised at last to a true apprehension of His nature. All 
this was recapitulated in the experience of Paul. In 
his case the common experience was the more sharply 
defined because of the suddenness of his conversion, 
and the startling effect with which this new conscious- 
ness projected itself upon the background of his earlier 
Pharisaic life. Paul had his Resurrection-vision on 
the road to Damascus. He received his Pentecostal 
baptism in the days that followed. 

It is not necessary to fix the precise occasion of the 
second revelation, or to connect it specifically with the 
visit of Ananias to Saul in Damascus, much less with 
his later "ecstasy" in the temple (Acts ix. 10—19; 
xxii. 12 — 21). When Ananias, sent by Christ, brought 
him the assurance of forgiveness from the injured 
Church, and bade him " recover his sight, and be filled 
with the Holy Ghost," this message greatly comforted 
his heart, and pointed out to him more clearly the 
way of salvation along which he was groping. But 
it is the office of the Spirit of God to reveal the Son 
of God ; so Paul teaches everywhere in his Epistles, 
taught first by his own experience. Not from Ananias, 
nor from any man had he received this knowledge ; 
God revealed His Son in the soul of the Apostle — 
" sent forth the Spirit of His Son into his heart " 
(ch. iv. 6). The language of 2 Cor. iii. 12 — iv. 6 
is the best commentary on this verse. A veil rested 
on the heart of Saul the Pharisee. He read the Old 


Covenant only in the condemning letter. Not yet did 
he know " the Lord " who is " the spirit." This veil 
was done away in Christ. " The glory of the Lord " 
that burst upon him in his Damascus journey, rent it 
once and for ever from his eyes. God, the Light-giver, 
had "shined in his heart, in the face of Jesus Christ." 
Such was the further scope of the revelation which 
effected Paul's conversion. As he writes afterwards 
to Ephesus, " the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the 
Father of glory, had given him a spirit of wisdom and 
revelation in the knowledge of Christ ; eyes of the 
heart enlightened to know the hope of His calling, 
and His exceeding power to usward, according to that 
He wrought in Christ when he raised Him from the 
dead, and set Him at His own right hand " (Eph. i. 
17 — 21). In these words we hear an echo of the 
thoughts that passed through the Apostle's mind when 
first " it pleased God in him to reveal His Son." 

II. In the light of this inner revelation Paul received 
his Gentile mission. 

He speedily perceived that this was the purpose 
with which the revelation was made : " that I should 
preach Him among the Gentiles." The three accounts 
of his conversion furnished by the Acts witness to 
the same effect. Whether we should suppose that the 
Lord Jesus gave Saul this commission directly, at His 
first appearance, as seems to be implied in Acts xxvi., 
or infer from the more detailed narrative of chapters 
ix. and xxii., that the announcement was sent by 
Ananias and afterwards more urgently repeated in 
the vision at the Temple, in either case the fact remains 
the same ; from the beginning Paul knew that he was 
appointed to be Christ's witness to the Gentiles. This 
destination was included in the Divine call which 


brought him to faith in Jesus. His Judaic prejudices 
were swept away. He was ready to embrace the 
universalism of the Gospel. With his fine logical in- 
stinct, sharpened by hatred, he had while yet a Pharisee 
discerned more clearly than many Jewish Christians the 
bearing of the doctrine of the cross upon the legal 
system. He saw that the struggle was one of life and 
death. The vehemence with which he flung himself into 
the contest was due to this perception. But it followed 
from this, that, once convinced of the Messiahship of 
Jesus, Paul's faith at a bound overleaped all Jewish 
barriers. "Judaism — or the religion of the Crucified." 
was the alternative with which his stern logic pursued 
the Nazarenes. Judaism and Christianity — this was 
a compromise intolerable to his nature. Before Saul's 
conversion he had left that halting-place behind ; he 
apprehended already, in some sense, the truth up to 
which the elder Apostles had to be educated, that " in 
Christ Jesus there is neither Greek nor Jew." He passed 
at a step from the one camp to the other. In this 
there was consistency. The enlightened, conscientious 
persecutor, who had debated with Stephen and helped 
to stone him, was sure, if he became a Christian, to 
become a Christian of Stephen's school. When he 
entered the Church, Paul left the Synagogue. He was 
ripe for his world-wide commission. There was no 
surprise, no unpreparedness in his mind when the 
charge was given him, "Go; for I will send thee far 
hence among the Gentiles." 

In the Apostle's view, his personal salvation and 
that of the race were objects united from the first. Not 
as a privileged Jew, but as a sinful man, the Divine 
grace had found him out. The righteousness of God 
was revealed to him on terms which brought it within 


the reach of every human being. The Son of God 
whom he now beheld was a personage vastly greater 
than his national Messiah, the " Christ after the flesh" 
of his Jewish dreams, and His gospel was correspond- 
ingly loftier and larger in its scope. "God was in 
Christ, reconciling," not a nation, but "a world unto 
Himself." The " grace " conferred on him was given 
that he might " preach among the Gentiles Christ's un- 
searchable riches, and make all men see the mystery" 
of the counsel of redeeming love (Eph. iii. I — u). It 
was the world's redemption of which Paul partook ; and 
it was his business to let the world know it. He had 
fathomed the depths of sin and self-despair ; he had 
tasted the uttermost of pardoning grace. God and the 
world met in his single soul, and were reconciled. He 
felt from the first what he expresses in his latest Epistles, 
that " the grace of God which appeared " to him, was 
"for the salvation of all men" (Tit. ii. n). "Faith- 
ful is the saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that 
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of 
whom I am chief" (i Tim. i. 15). The same revela- 
tion that made Paul a Christian, made him the Apostle 
of mankind. 

III. For this vocation the Apostle had been destined by 
God from the beginning. " It pleased God to do this," 
he says, " who had marked me out from my mother's 
womb, and called me by His grace." 

While " Saul was yet breathing out threatening and 
slaughter" against the disciples of Jesus, how different 
a future was being prepared for him I How little can 
we forecast the issue of our own plans, or of those we 
form for others. His Hebrew birth, his rabbinical 
proficiency, the thoroughness with which he had 
mastered the tenets of Legalism, had fitted him like no 


other to be the bearer of the Gospel to the Gentiles. 
This Epistle proves the fact. Only a graduate of the 
best Jewish schools could have written it. Paul's 
master, Gamaliel, if he had read the letter, must per- 
force have been proud of his scholar ; he would have 
feared more than ever that those who opposed the 
Nazarene might " haply be found fighting against 
God." The Apostle foils the Judaists with their own 
weapons. He knows every inch of the ground on 
which the battle is waged. At the same time, he 
was a born Hellenist and a citizen of the Empire, 
native " of no mean city." Tarsus, his birthplace, 
was the capital of an important Roman province, and 
a centre of Greek culture and refinement. In spite of 
the Hebraic conservatism of Saul's family, the genial 
atmosphere of such a town could not but affect the 
early development of so sensitive a nature. He had 
sufficient tincture of Greek letters and conversance 
with Roman law to make him a true cosmopolitan, 
qualified to be " all things to all men." He presents 
an admirable example of that versatility and suppleness 
of genius which have distinguished for so many ages 
the sons of Jacob, and enable them to find a home and 
a market for their talents in every quarter of the world. 
Paul was " a chosen vessel, to bear the name of Jesus 
before Gentiles and kings, and the sons of Israel." 

But his mission was concealed till the appointed 
hour. Thinking of his personal election, he reminds 
himself of the words spoken to Jeremiah touching his 
prophetic call. " Before I formed thee in the belly I 
knew thee ; and before thou earnest out of the womb 
I sanctified thee. I appointed thee a prophet unto the 
nations" (Jer. i. 5). Or like the Servant of the Lord 
in Isaiah he might say, " The Lord hath called m« 


from the womb ; from the bowels of my mother hath 
He made mention of my name. And He hath made 
my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of His 
hand hath He hid me ; and He hath made me a 
polished shaft, in His quiver hath He kept me close " 
(Isa. xlix. I, 2). This belief in a fore-ordaining Pro- 
vidence, preparing in secret its chosen instruments, so 
deeply rooted in the Old Testament faith, was not want- 
ing to Paul. His career is a signal illustration of its 
truth. He applies it, in his doctrine of Election, to the 
history of every child of grace. " Whom He foreknew, 
He did predestinate. Whom He did predestinate, 
He called." Once more we see how the Apostle's 
theology was moulded by his experience. 

The manner in which Saul of Tarsus had been pre- 
pared all his life long for the service of Christ, magnified 
to his eyes the sovereign grace of God. " He called 
me through His grace." The call came at precisely the 
fit time ; it came at a time and in a manner calculated 
to display the Divine compassion in the highest possible 
degree. This lesson Paul could never forget. To the 
last he dwells upon it with deep emotion. " In me," 
he writes to Timothy, " Jesus Christ first showed forth 
all His longsuffering. I was a blasphemer, a persecutor, 
insolent and injurious; but I obtained mercy" (i Tim. 
i. 13 — 16). He was so dealt with from the beginning, he 
had been called to the knowledge of Christ under such 
circumstances that he felt he had a right to say, above 
other men, " By the grace of God I am what I am." 
The predestination under which his life was con- 
ducted "from his mother's womb," had for its chief 
purpose, to exhibit God's mercy to mankind, " that in 
the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches 
ol His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus " 


(Eph. ii. 7). To this purpose, so soon as he discerned 
it, he humbly yielded himself. The Son of God, whose 
followers he had hunted to death, whom in his madness 
he would have crucified afresh, had appeared to him to 
save and to forgive. The grace of it, the infinite kind- 
ness and compassion such an act revealed in the Divine 
nature, excited new wonder in the Apostle's soul till 
his latest hour. Henceforth he was the bondman of 
grace, the celebrant of grace. His life was one act 
of thanksgiving "to the praise of the glory of His 
grace !" 

IV. From Jesus Christ in person Paul had received 
his knowledge of the Gospel, without human interven- 
tion. In the revelation of Christ to his soul he 
possessed the substance of the truth he was afterwards 
to teach ; and with the revelation there came the com- 
mission to proclaim it to all men. His gospel-message 
was in its essence complete ; the Apostleship was 
already his. Such are the assertions the Apostle makes 
in reply to his gainsayers. And he goes on to show 
that the course he took after his conversion sustains these 
lofty claims: "When God had been pleased to reveal 
His Son in me, immediately (right from the first) 
I took no counsel with flesh and blood. I avoided 
repairing to Jerusalem, to the elder Apostles ; I went 
away into Arabia, and back again to Damascus. It was 
three years before I set foot in Jerusalem." 

If that were so, how could Paul have received his 
doctrine or his commission from the Church of Jeru- 
salem, as his traducers alleged ? He acted from the 
outset under the sense of a unique Divine call, that 
allowed of no human validation or supplement. Had 
the case been otherwise, had Paul come to his know- 
ledge of Christ by ordinary channels, his first impulse 


would have been to go up to the mother city to report 
himself there, and to gain further instruction. Above 
all, if he intended to be a minister of Christ, it would 
have been proper to secure the approval of the Twelve, 
and to be accredited from Jerusalem. This was the 
course which " flesh and blood " dictated, which Saul's 
new friends at Damascus probably urged upon him. 
It was insinuated that he had actually proceeded in 
this way, and put himself under the direction of Peter 
and the Judean Church. But he says, " I did nothing 
of the sort. I kept clear of Jerusalem for three years ; 
and then I only went there to make private acquain- 
tance with Peter, and stayed in the city but a fortnight." 
Although Paul did not for many years make public 
claim to rank with the Twelve, from the commencement 
he acted in conscious independence of them. He calls 
them " Apostles before me," by this phrase assuming 
the matter in dispute. He tacitly asserts his equality 
in official status with the Apostles of Jesus, assigning 
to the others precedence only in point of time. And 
he speaks of this equality in terms implying that it 
was already present to his mind at this former period. 
Under this conviction he held aloof from human guidance 
and approbation. Instead of " going up to Jerusalem," 
the centre of publicity, the head-quarters of the rising 
Church, Paul " went off into Arabia." 

There were, no doubt, other reasons for this step. 
Why did he choose Arabia for his sojourn ? and what, 
pray, was he doing there ? The Apostle leaves us to our 
own conjectures. Solitude, we imagine, was his principal 
object. His Arabian retreat reminds us of the Arabian 
exile of Moses, of the wilderness discipline of John the 
Baptist, and the " forty days " of Jesus in the wilder- 
ness. In each of these instances, the desert retirement 


followed upon a great inward crisis, and was prepara- 
tory to the entrance of the Lord's servant on his 
mission to the world. Elijah, at a later period of his 
course, sought the wilderness under motives not dis- 
similar. After such a convulsion as Paul had passed 
through, with a whole world of new ideas and emotions 
pouring in upon him, he felt that he must be alone ; he 
must get away from the voices of men. There are 
such times in the history of every earnest soul. In 
the silence of the Arabian desert, wandering amid the 
grandest scenes of ancient revelation, and communing 
in stillness with God and with his own heart, the young 
Apostle will think out the questions that press upon 
him ; he will be able to take a calmer survey of the 
new world into which he has been ushered, and will 
learn to see clearly and walk steadily in the heavenly 
light that at first bewildered him. So " the Spirit 
immediately driveth him out into the wilderness." In 
Arabia one confers, not with flesh and blood, but with 
the mountains and with God. From Arabia Saul 
returned in possession of himself, and of his gospel. 

The Acts of the Apostles omits this Arabian episode 
(Acts ix. 19 — 25). But for what Paul tells us here, we 
should have gathered that he began at once after his 
baptism to preach Christ in Damascus, his preaching 
after no long time* exciting Jewish enmity to such a 
pitch that his life was imperilled, and the Christian 
brethren compelled him to seek safety by flight to 
Jerusalem. The reader of Luke is certainly surprised 
to find a period of three years,f with a prolonged 

• Tyxtpat Ixavai, a considerable time. The expression is indefinite. 

t Ver. 18 : that is, parts of ** three years," according to ancient 
reckoning — say from 36 to 38 A.D., possibly less than two in actual 


residence in Arabia, interpolated between Paul's con- 
version and his reception in Jerusalem. Luke's silence, 
we judge, is intentional. The Arabian retreat formed 
no part of the Apostle's public life, and had no place in 
the narrative of the Acts. Paul only mentions it here 
in the briefest terms, and because the reference was 
necessary to put his relations to the first Apostles in 
their proper light. For the time the converted Saul 
had dropped out of sight ; and the historian of the Acts 
respects his privacy. 

The place of the Arabian journey seems to us to lie 
between vv. 2 1 and 22 of Acts ix. That passage gives 
a twofold description of Paul's preaching in Damascus, 
in its earlier and later stages, with a double note of 
time (w. 19 and 23). Saul's first testimony, taking place 
" straightway," was, one would presume, a mere declara- 
tion of faith in Jesus : " In the synagogues he proclaimed 
Jesus, (saying) that He is the Son of God " (R.V.), 
language in striking harmony with that of the Apostle 
in the text (vv. 12, 16). Naturally this recantation 
caused extreme astonishment in Damascus, where Saul's 
reputation was well-known both to Jews and Chris- 
tians, and his arrival was expected in the character of 
Jewish inquisitor-in-chief. Ver. 22 presents a different 
situation. Paul is now preaching in his established 
and characteristic style ; as we read it, we might fancy 
we hear him debating in the synagogues of Pisidian 
Antioch or Corinth or Thessalonica : " He was con- 
founding the Jews, proving that this is the Christ." 
Neither Saul himself nor his Jewish hearers in the 
first days after his conversion would be in the mood 
for the sustained argumentation and Scriptural dialectic 
thus described. The explanation of the change lies 
behind the opening words of the verse : " But Saul 


increased in strength " — a growth due not only to the 
prolonged opposition he had to encounter, but still 
more, as we conjecture from this hint of the Apostle, 
to the period of rest and reflection which he enjoyed 
in his Arabian seclusion. The two marks of time 
given us in vv. 19 and 23 of Luke's narrative, may be 
fairly distinguished from each other — "certain days," 
and " sufficient days " (or " a considerable time ") — 
as denoting a briefer and a longer season respectively : 
the former so short that the excitement caused by 
Saul's declaration of his new faith had not yet subsided 
when he withdrew from the city into the desert — in 
which case Luke's note of time does not really conflict 
with Paul's " immediately " ; the latter affording a 
lapse of time sufficient for Saul to develope his argu- 
ment for the Messiahship of Jesus, and to provoke the 
Jews, worsted in logic, to resort to other weapons. 
From Luke's point of view the sojourn in Arabia, how- 
ever extended, was simply an incident, of no public 
importance, in Paul's early ministry in Damascus. 

The disappearance of Saul during this interval helps 
however, as we think, to explain a subsequent statement 
in Luke's narrative that is certainly perplexing (Acts 
ix. 26, 27). When Saul, after his escape from Damas- 
cus, " was come to Jerusalem," and " essayed to join 
himself to the disciples," they, we are told, " were all 
afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple 1 " 
For while the Church at Jerusalem had doubtless heard 
at the time of Saul's marvellous conversion three years 
before, his long retirement and avoidance of Jerusalem 
threw an air of mystery and suspicion about his proceed- 
ings, and revived the fears of the Judean brethren ; and 
his reappearance created a panic. In consequence of 
his sudden departure from Damascus, it is likely that 



no public report had as yet reached Jud8ea of Saul's 
return to that city and his renewed ministry there. 
Barnabas now came forward to act as sponsor for the 
suspected convert. What induced him to do this — 
whether it was that his largeness of heart enabled him 
to read Saul's character better than others, or whether 
he had some earlier private acquaintance with the 
Tarsian — we cannot tell. The account that Barnabas 
was able to give of his friend's conversion and of his 
bold confession in Damascus, won for Paul the place 
in the confidence of Peter and the leaders of the Church 
at Jerusalem which he never afterwards lost. 

The two narratives — the history of Luke and the 
letter of Paul — relate the same series of events, but 
from almost opposite standpoints. Luke dwells upon 
Paul's connection with the Church at Jerusalem and 
its Apostles. Paul is maintaining his independence of 
them. There is no contradiction ; but there is just such 
discrepancy as will arise where two honest and compet- 
ent witnesses are relating identical facts in a different 



"The nafter three years I went up to Jerusalem to yisit Cephas, aa<J 
tarried with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles saw I none, 
but only James the Lord's brother. Now touching the things which 
I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not. Then I came into the 
regions of Syria and Cilicia And I was still unknown by face unto 
the churches of Judaea which were in Christ : but they only heard say, 
He that once persecuted us now preacheth the faith of which he once 
made havock ; and they glorified God in me." — Gal. i. 18 — 24. 

FOR the first two years of his Christian life, Paul 
held no intercourse whatever with the Church 
at Jerusalem and its chiefs. His relation with them was 
commenced by the visit he paid to Peter in the third year 
after his conversion. And that relation was more pre- 
cisely determined and made public when, after success- 
fully prosecuting for fourteen years his mission to the 
heathen, the Apostle again went up to Jerusalem to 
defend the liberty of the Gentile Church (ch. ii. 1 — 10). 
A clear understanding of this course of events was 
essential to the vindication of Paul's position in the 
eyes of the Galatians. The "troublers" told them that 
Paul's doctrine was not that of the mother Church; 
that his knowledge of the gospel and authority to 
preach it came from the elder Apostles, with whom 
since his attack upon Peter at Antioch he was at open 
variance. They themselves had come down from 
Judaea on purpose to set his pretensions in their true 


light, and to teach the Gentiles the way of the Lord 
more perfectly. 

Modern rationalism has espoused the cause of these 
"deceitful workers" (2 Cor. xi. 13 — 15). It endea- 
vours to rehabilitate the Judaistic party. The " criti- 
cal " school maintain that the opposition of the 
Circumcisionists to the Apostle Paul was perfectly 
legitimate. They hold that the " pseud-apostles " of 
Corinth, the "certain from James," the "troublers" and 
" false brethren privily brought in " of this Epistle, did 
in truth represent, as they claimed to do, the principles 
of the Jewish Christian Church ; and that there was a 
radical divergence between the Pauline and Petrine 
gospels, of which the two Apostles were fully aware 
from the time of their encounter at Antioch. However 
Paul may have wished to disguise the fact to himself, 
the teaching of the Twelve was identical, we are told, 
with that " other gospel " on which he pronounces his 
anathema ; the original Church of Jesus never emanci- 
pated itself from the trammels of legalism ; the Apostle 
Paul, and not his Master, was in reality the author of 
evangelical doctrine, the founder of the catholic Church. 
The conflict between Peter and Paul at Antioch, 
related in this Epistle, supplies, in the view of Baur 
and his followers, the key to the history of the Early 
Church. The Ebionite assumption of a personal rivalry 
between the two Apostles and an intrinsic opposition in 
their doctrine, hitherto regarded as the invention of a 
desperate and decaying heretical sect, these ingenious 
critics have adopted for the basis of their " scientific " 
reconstruction of the New Testament. Paul's Judaizing 
hinderers and troublers are to be canonized ; and the 
pseudo-Clementine writings, forsooth, must take the 
place of the discredited Acts of the Apostles. Verily 


*' the whirligig of time hath its revenges." To empanel 
Paul on his accusers' side, and to make this Epistle 
above all convict him of heterodoxy, is an attempt 
which dazzles by its very daring. 

Let us endeavour to form a clear conception of the 
facts touching Paul's connection with the first Apostles 
and his attitude and feeling towards the Jewish Church, 
as they are in evidence in the first two chapters of this 

I. On the one hand, it is clear that the Gentile 
Apostle's relations to Peter and the Twelve were those 
of personal independence and official equality. 

This is the aspect of the case on which Paul lays 
stress. His sceptical critics argue that under his 
assertion of independence there is concealed an opposi- 
tion of principle, a " radical divergence." The sense of 
independence is unmistakable. It is on that side that 
the Apostle seeks to guard himself. With this aim 
he styles himself at the outset " an Apostle not from 
men, nor by man " — neither man-made nor man-sent. 
Such apostles there were ; and in this character, we 
imagine, the Galatian Judaistic teachers, like those of 
Corinth,* professed to appear, as the emissaries of the 
Church in Jerusalem and the authorised exponents of 
the teaching of the " pillars " there. Paul is an Apostle 
at first-hand, taking his commission directly from Jesus 
Christ. In that quality he pronounces his benediction 
and his anathema. To support this assumption he has 
shown how impossible it was in point of time and cir- 
cumstances that he should have been beholden for his 
gospel to the Jerusalem Church and the elder Apostles. 
So far as regarded the manner of his conversion and 

* 2 Cor. xi. 13 ; iii. I — 3. See the remarks on the word Apostle in 
Chapter I. p. 12. 


the events of the first decisive years in which his 
Christian principles and vocation took their shape, his 
position had been altogether detached and singular ; 
the Jewish Apostles could in no way claim him for 
their son in the gospel. 

But at last, " after three years," Saul " did go up to 
Jerusalem." What was it for ? To report himself to 
the authorities of the Church and place himself under 
their direction? To seek Peter's instruction, in order to 
obtain a more assured knowledge of the gospel he had 
embraced? Nothing of the kind. Not even "to question 
Cephas," as some render IffTopfjo-ai, following an older 
classical usage — " to gain information " from him ; but 
" I went up to make acquaintance with Cephas." Saul 
went to Jerusalem carrying in his heart the conscious- 
ness of his high vocation, seeking, as an equal with an 
equal, to make personal acquaintance with the leader of 
the Twelve. Cephas (as he was called at Jerusalem) 
must have been at this time to Paul a profoundly 
interesting personality. He was the one man above 
all others whom the Apostle felt he must get to know, 
with whom it was necessary for him to have a thorough 

How momentous was this meeting 1 How much we 
could wish to know what passed between these two in 
the conversations of the fortnight they spent together. 
One can imagine the delight with which Peter would 
relate to his listener the scenes of the life of Jesus; 
how the two men would weep together at the recital of 
the Passion, the betrayal, trial and denial, the agony of 
the Garden, the horror of the cross; with what mingled 
awe and triumph he would describe the events of the 
Resurrection and the Forty Days, the Ascension, and 
the baptism of fire. In Paul's account of the appear- 


ances of the risen Christ (1 Cor. xv. 4 — 8), written 
many years afterwards, there are statements most 
naturally explained as a recollection of what he had 
heard privately from Peter, and possibly also from 
James, at this conference. For it is in his gospel mes- 
sage and doctrine, and his Apostolic commission, not 
in regard to the details of the biography of Jesus, that 
Paul claims to be independent of tradition. And with 
what deep emotion would Peter receive in turn from 
Paul's lips the account of his meeting with Jesus, of 
the three dark days that followed, of the message sent 
through Ananias, and the revelations made and purposes 
formed during the Arabian exile. Between two such 
men, met at such a time, there would surely be an 
entire frankness of communication and a brotherly 
exchange of convictions and of plans. In that case 
Paul could not fail to inform the elder Apostle of the 
extent of the commission he had received from their 
common Master ; although he does not appear to have 
made any public and formal assertion of his Apostolic 
dignity for a considerable time afterwards. The sup- 
position of a private cognizance on Peter's part of 
Paul's true status makes the open recognition which 
took place fourteen years later easy to understand 
(ch. ii. 6 — 10). 

" But other of the Apostles," Paul goes on to say, 
" saw I none, but only James the brother of the Lord.' 
James, no Apostle surely ; neither in the higher sense, 
for he cannot be reasonably identified with " James the 
son of Alphseus ; " nor in the lower, for he was, as far 
as we can learn, stationary at Jerusalem. But he stood 
so near the Apostles, and was in every way so impor- 
tant a person, that if Paul had omitted the name of 
Jamea in this connection, he would have seemed to pass 


over a material fact. The reference to James in I Cor. 
xv. 7 — a hint deeply interesting in itself, and lending so 
much dignity to the position of James — suggests that 
Paul had been at this time in confidential intercourse 
with James as well as Peter, each relating to the other 
how he had " seen the Lord." 

So cardinal are the facts just stated (w. 15 — 19), as 
bearing on Paul's apostleship, and so contrary to the 
representations made by the Judaizers, that he pauses 
to call God to witness his veracity : " Now in what I 
am writing to you, lo, before God, I lie not." The 
Apostle never makes this appeal lightly ; but only in 
support of some averment in which his personal honour 
and his strongest feelings are involved,* It was 
alleged, with some show of proof, that Paul was an 
underling of the authorities of the Church at Jerusalem, 
and that all he knew of the gospel had been learned 
from the Twelve. From ver. II onwards he has 
been making a circumstantial contradiction of these 
assertions. He protests that up to the time when he 
commenced his Gentile mission, he had been under no 
man's tutelage or tuition in respect to his knowledge of 
the gospel. He can say no more to prove his case. 
Either his opposers or himself are uttering falsehood. 
The Galatians know, or ought to know, how incapable 
he is of such deceit. Solemnly therefore he avouches, 
closing the matter so far, as if drawing himself up to 
his utmost height : " Behold, before God, I do not 
lie I " 

But now we are confronted with the narrative of 
the Acts (chap. ix. 26 — 30), which renders a very 
different account of this passage in the Apostle's life. 

• See Rom. ut. I j 2 Cor. i. 17, 18, 23 ; I Thess. ii. 5. 


(To w. 26, 27 of Luke's narrative we have already 
alluded in the concluding paragraphs of Chapter V). 
We are told there that Barnabas introduced Saul " to 
the Apostles " ; here, that he saw none of them but 
Cephas, and only James besides. The number of the 
Apostolate present in Jerusalem at the time is a 
particular that does not engage Luke's mind ; while it 
is of the essence of Paul's affirmation. What the Acts 
relates is that Saul, through Barnabas' intervention, 
was now received by the Apostolic fellowship as a 
Christian brother, and as one who "had seen the Lord." 
The object which Saul had in coming to Jerusalem, 
and the fact that just then Cephas was the only one of 
the Twelve to be found in the city, along with James — 
these are matters which only come into view from the 
private and personal standpoint to which Paul admits 
us. For the rest, there is certainly no contradiction 
when we read in the one report that Paul " went up to 
make acquaintance with Cephas," and in the other, that 
he " was with them going in and out at Jerusalem, 
preaching boldly in the name of the Lord ; " that " he 
spake and disputed against the Hellenists," moving 
their anger so violently that his life was again in 
danger, and he had to be carried down to Caesarea and 
shipped off to Tarsus. Saul was not the man to hide 
his head in Jerusalem. We can understand how 
greatly his spirit was stirred by his arrival there, and 
by the recollection of his last passage through the 
city gates. In these very synagogues of the Hellenists 
he had himself confronted Stephen ; outside those 
walls he had assisted to stone the martyr. Paul's 
address delivered many years later to the Jewish 
mob that attempted his life in Jerusalem, shows how 
deeply these remembrances troubled his soul (Acts xxii. 


iy — 22). And they would not suffer him now to be 
silent. He hoped that his testimony to Christ, delivered 
in the spot where he had been so notorious as a 
persecutor, would produce a softening effect on his old 
companions. It was sure to affect them powerfully, 
one way or the other. As the event proved, it did not 
take many words from Saul's lips to awaken against 
him the same fury that hurried Stephen to his death. 
A fortnight was time quite sufficient, under the circum- 
stances, to make Jerusalem, as we say, too hot to hold 
Saul. Nor can we wonder, knowing his love for his 
kindred, that there needed a special command from 
heaven (Acts xxii. 21 ), joined to the friendly compulsion 
of the Church, to induce him to yield ground and quit 
the city. But he had accomplished something ; he 
had " made acquaintance with Cephas." 

This brief visit to the Holy City was a second crisis 
in Paul's career. He was now thrust forth upon his 
mission to the heathen. It was evident that he was 
not to look for success among his Jewish brethren. 
He lost no opportunity of appealing to them ; but it 
was commonly with the same result as at Damascus 
and Jerusalem. Throughout life he carried with him 
this " great sorrow and unceasing pain of heart," that 
to his "kinsmen according to the flesh," for whose 
salvation he could consent to forfeit his own, his 
gospel was hid. In their eyes he was a traitor to 
Israel, and must count upon their enmity. Everything 
conspired to point in one direction : ' Depart," the 
Divine voice had said, " for I will send thee far hence 
unto the Gentiles." And Paul obeved. " I went," he 
relates here, " into the regions of Syria and Cilicia " 
(ver. 21). 

To Tarsus, the Cilician capital, Saul voyaged from 


Judaea. So we learn from Acts ix. 30. His native 
place had the first claim on the Apostle after Jerusalem, 
and afforded the best starting-point for his independent 
mission, Syria, however, precedes Cilicia in the text; 
it was the leading province of these two, in which 
Paul was occupied during the fourteen years ensuing, 
and became the seat of distinguished Churches. In 
Antioch, the Syrian capital, Christianity was already 
planted (Acts xi. 19 — 21). The close connection of the 
Churches of these provinces, and their predominantly 
Gentile character, are both evident from the letter 
addressed to them subsequently by the Council of 
Jerusalem (Acts xv. 23, 24). Acts xv. 41 shows that 
a number of Christian societies owning Paul's authority 
were found at a later time in this region. And there 
was a highroad direct from Syro-Cilicia to Galatia, 
which Paul traversed in his second visit to the latter 
country (Acts xviii. 22, 23); so that the Galatians 
would doubtless be aware of the existence of these 
older Gentile Churches, and of their relation to Paul. 
He has no need to dwell on this first chapter of his 
missionary history. After but a fortnight's visit to 
Jerusalem, Paul went into these Gentile regions, and 
there for twice seven years — with what success was 
known to all — " preached the faith of which once he 
made havoc." 

This period was divided into two parts. For five 
or six years the Apostle laboured alone ; afterwards in 
conjunction with Barnabas, who invited his help at 
Antioch (Acts xi. 25, 26). Barnabas was Paul's senior, 
and had for some time held the leading position in the 
Church of Antioch ; and Paul was personally indebted 
to this generous man (p. 82). He accepted the position 
of helper to Barnabas without any compromise of his 


higher authority, as yet held in reserve. He accom- 
panied Barnabas to Jerusalem in 44 (or 45) a.d., with 
the contribution made by the Syrian Church for the 
relief of the famine-stricken Judean brethren — a visit 
which Paul seems here to forget.* But the Church at 
Jerusalem was at that time undergoing a severe per- 
secution ; its leaders were either in prison or in flight. 
The two delegates can have done little more than 
convey the moneys entrusted to them, and that with 
the utmost secrecy. Possibly Paul on this occasion 
never set foot inside the city. In any case, the event 
had no bearing on the Apostle's present contention. 

Between this journey and the really important visit 
to Jerusalem introduced in chap. ii. I, Barnabas and 
Paul undertook, at the prompting of the Holy Spirit 
expressed through the Church of Antioch (Acts xiii. 
1 — 4), the missionary expedition described in Acts 
xiii., xiv. Under the trials of this journey the ascend- 
ancy of the younger evangelist became patent to all. 
Paul was marked out in the eyes of the Gentiles as 
their born leader, the Apostle of heathen Christianity. 
He appears to have taken the chief part in the 
discussion with the Judaists respecting circumcision, 
which immediately ensued at Antioch ; and was put at 
the head of the deputation sent up to Jerusalem con- 
cerning this question. This was a turning-point in 
the Apostle's history. It brought about the public 
recognition of his leadership in the Church. The seal 
of man was now to be set upon the secret election 
of God. 

During this long period, the Apostle tells us, he 
"remained unknown by face to the Churches of Judaea." 

* Acts xi. 27—30. It is significant that this ministration was sent 
''to the Elders." 


Absent for so many years from the metropolis, after a 
fortnight's flying visit, spent in private intercourse 
with Peter and James, and in controversy in the 
Hellenistic synagogues where few Christians of the 
city would be likely to follow him,* Paul was a 
stranger to the bulk of the Judean disciples. But they 
watched his course, notwithstanding, with lively interest 
and with devout thanksgiving to God (vv. 22, 23). 
Throughout this first period of his ministry the Apostle 
acted in complete independence of the Jewish Church, 
making no report to its chiefs, nor seeking any direction 
from them. Accordingly, when afterwards he did go 
up to Jerusalem and laid before the authorities there 
his gospel to the heathen, they had nothing to add 
to it; they did not take upon themselves to give him 
any advice or injunction, beyond the wish that he and 
Barnabas should " remember the poor," as he was 
already forward to do (ch. ii. I — 10). Indeed the three 
famous Pillars of the Jewish Church at this time openly 
acknowledged Paul's equality with Peter in the Apostle- 
ship, and resigned to his direction the Gentile province. 
Finally at Antioch, the head-quarters of Gentile 
Christianity, when Peter compromised the truth of 
the gospel by yielding to Judaistic pressure, Paul had 
not hesitated publicly to reprove him (ch. ii. 1 1 — 21). 
He had been compelled in this way to carry the vindi- 
cation of his gospel to the furthest lengths ; and he had 
done this successfully. It is only when we reach the 
end of the second chapter that we discover how much 
the Apostle meant when he said, " My gospel is not 
according to man." 

* For the ministry alluded to in Acts xxvi. 20 there were other, latei 
opportunities, especially in the journey described in Acts xv. 3 ; see. 
also Acts xxi. 15, 16. , 


If there was any man to whom as a Christian 
teacher he was bound to defer, any one who might be 
regarded as his official superior, it was the Apostle 
Peter. Yet against this very Cephas he had dared 
openly to measure himself. Had he been a disciple of 
the Jewish Apostle, a servant of the Jerusalem Church, 
how would this have been possible ? Had he not pos- 
sessed an authority derived immediately from Christ, 
how could he have stood out alone, against the preroga- 
tive of Peter, against the personal friendship and local 
influence of Barnabas, against the example of all his 
Jewish brethren ? Nay, he was prepared to rebuke 
all the Apostles, and anathematize all the angels, 
rather than see Christ's gospel set at nought. For it 
was in his view " the gospel of the glory of the blessed 
God, committed to my trust I" (i Tim. i. n). 

II. But while Paul stoutly maintains his indepen- 
dence, he does this in such a way as to show that there 
was no hostility or personal rivalry between himself 
and the first Apostles. His relations to the Jewish 
Church were all the while those of friendly acquaintance 
and brotherly recognition. 

That Nazarene sect which he had of old time per- 
secuted, was " the Church of God " (ver. 1 3). To 
the end of his life this thought gave a poignancy to 
the Apostle's recollection of his early days. To 
" the Churches of Judaea"* he attaches the epithet in 
Christ, a phrase of peculiar depth of meaning with 
Paul, which he could never have conferred as matter 
of formal courtesy, nor by way of mere distinction 
between the Church and the Synagogue. From 

Ver. 22. It is arbitrary in Meyer to exclude from this category 
the Church of Jerusalem. , 


Paul's lips this title is a guarantee of orthodoxy. 
It satisfies us that the " other gospel " of the Circum- 
cisionists was very far from being the gospel of the 
Jewish Christian Church at large. Paul is careful 
to record the sympathy which the Judean brethren 
cherished for his missionary work in its earliest stages, 
although their knowledge of him was comparatively 
distant : " Only they continued to hear that our old 
persecutor is preaching the faith which once he sought 
to destroy. And in mt they glorified God." Nor does 
he drop the smallest hint to show that the disposition 
of the Churches in the mother country toward himself, 
or his judgement respecting them, had undergone any 
change up to the time of his writing this Epistle. 

He speaks of the elder Apostles in terms of unfeigned 
respect. In his reference in ch. ii. 11 — 21 to the error 
of Peter, there is great plainness of speech, but no 
bitterness. When the Apostle says that he " went up 
to Jerusalem to see Peter," and describes James as 
"the Lord's brother," and when he refers to both of 
them, along with John, as " those accounted to be 
pillars," can he mean anything but honour to these 
honoured men ? To read into these expressions a 
covert jealousy and to suppose them written by way 
of disparagement, seems to us a strangely jaundiced 
and small-minded sort of criticism. The Apostle 
testifies that Peter held a Divine trust in the Gospel, 
and that God had "wrought for Peter" to this 
effect, as for himself. By claiming the testimony of 
the Pillars at Jerusalem to his vocation, he shows his 
profound respect for theirs. When the unfortunate 
difference arose between Peter and himself at Antioch, 
Paul is careful to show that the Jewish Apostle on that 
occasion was influenced by the circumstances of the 


moment, and nevertheless remained true in his real 
convictions to the common gospel. 

In view of these facts, it is impossible to believe, 
as the Tendency critics would have us do, that Paul 
when he wrote this letter was at feud with the Jewish 
Church. In that case, while he taxes Peter with 
"dissimulation" (ch. ii. n-13), he is himself the real 
dissembler, and has carried his dissimulation to amazing 
lengths. If he is in this Epistle contending against the 
Primitive Church and its leaders, he has concealed his 
sentiments toward them with an art so crafty as to over- 
reach itself. He has taught his readers to reverence 
those whom on this hypothesis he was most concerned 
to discredit. The terms under which he refers to 
Cephas and the Judean Churches would be just so many 
testimonies against himself, if their doctrine was the 
" other gospel " of the Galatian trou biers, and if Paul 
and the Twelve were rivals for the suffrages of the 
Gentile Christians. 

The one word which wears a colour of detraction is 
the parenthesis in ver. 6 of ch. ii. : "whatever afore- 
time* they (those of repute^ were, makes no difference 
to me. God accepts no man's person." But this is no 
more than Paul has already said in ch. i. 16, 17. 
At the first, after receiving his gospel from the Lord in 
person, he felt it to be out of place for him to " confer 
with flesh and blood." So now, even in the presence 
of the first Apostles, the earthly companions of his 
Master, he cannot abate his pretensions, nor forget 
that his ministry stands on a level as exalted as theirs. 
This language is in precise accord with that of I Cor. 
xv. 10. The suggestion that the repeated 01 Bokouvt€<! 

* We follow Lightfoot in reading the rrori as in ch. i. 23, and 
everywhere else in Paul, as a particle of time. 


conveys a sneer against the leaders at Jerusalem, as 
" seeming " to be more than they were, is an insult to 
Paul that recoils upon the critics who utter it. The 
phrase denotes "those of repute," "reputed to be 
pillars," the acknowledged heads of the mother Church. 
Their position was recognised on all hands ; Paul 
assumes it, and argues upon it. He desires to magnify, 
not to minify, the importance of these illustrious men. 
They were pillars of his own cause. It is a maladroit 
interpretation that would have Paul cry down James 
and the Twelve. By so much as he impaired their 
worth, he must assuredly have impaired his own. If 
their status was mere seeming, of what value was their 
endorsement of his ? But for a preconceived opinion, 
no one, we may safely affirm, reading this Epistle 
would have gathered that Peter's "gospel of the cir- 
cumcision " was the " other gospel " of Galatia, or 
that the "certain from James" of ch. ii. 12 repre- 
sented the views and the policy of the first Apostles. 
The assumption that Peter's dissimulation at Antioch 
expressed the settled doctrine of the Jewish Apostolic 
Church, is unhistorical. The Judaizers ab tied the 
authority of Peter and James when they pleaded it in 
favour of their agitation. So w»_ are told expressly in 
Acts xv.; and a candid interpretation of this letter bears 
out the statements of Luke. In James and Peter, Paul 
and John, there were indeed "diversities of gifts and 
operations," but they had received the same Spirit ; they 
served the same Lord. They held alike the one and 
only gospel of the grace of God. 



" Then after the space of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem 
with Barnabas, taking Titus also with me. And I went up by revela- 
tion ; and I laid before them the gospel which I preach among the 
Gentiles, but privately before them who were of repute, [caking them 
whether I am running, or had run, in vain : but not even Titus who 
was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. But it 
was *] because of the false brethren privily brought in, who came in 
privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they 
might bring us into bondage : to whom we gave place in the way of 
subjection, no, not for an hour ; that the truth of die gospel might con- 
tinue with you." — Gal. ii. i — 5. 

" T^OURTEEN years" had elapsed since Paul left 
JL Jerusalem for Tarsus, and commenced his Gentile 
mission.? During this long period — a full half of his 
missionary course — the Apostle was lost to the sight 
of the Judean Churches. For nearly half this time, 
until Barnabas brought him to Antioch, we have no 
further trace of his movements. But these years of 
obscure labour had, we may be sure, no small influence 

* The writer is compelled in this instance to depart from the render- 
ing of the English Version, for reasons given in the sequel. See also 
a paper on Paul and Titus at Jerusalem, in The Expositor, 3rd series, 
vol. vi., pp. 435 — 442. The last three words within the brackets agree 
with the R.V. margin. 

t These fourteen years probably amounted to something less in oci 
reckoning, —say, from 38 to 51 a.d. Some six years elapsed before 
Paul was summoned to Antioch. 


in shaping the Apostle's subsequent career. It was 
a kind of Apostolic apprenticeship. Then his evange- 
listic plans were laid ; his powers were practised ; his 
methods of teaching and administration formed and 
tested. This first, unnoted period of Paul's missionary 
life held, we imagine, much the same relation to his 
public ministry that the time of the Arabian retreat did 
to his spiritual development. 

We are apt to think of the Apostle Paul only as we 
see him in the full tide of his activity, carrying " from 
Jerusalem round about unto Illyricum " the standard of 
the cross and planting it in one after another of the 
great cities of the Empire, " always triumphing in every 
place ; " or issuing those mighty Epistles whose voice 
shakes the world. We forget the earlier term of pre- 
paration, these years of silence and patience, of un- 
recorded toil in a comparatively narrow and humble 
sphere, which had after all their part in making Paul 
the man he was. If Christ Himself would not " clutch " 
at His Divine prerogatives (Phil. ii. 5 — 11), nor win 
them by self-assertion and before the time, how much 
more did it become His servant to rise to his great 
office by slow degrees. Paul served first as a private 
missionary pioneer in his native land, then as a junior 
colleague and assistant to Barnabas, until the summons 
came to take a higher place, when " the signs of an 
Apostle" had been fully "wrought in him." Not 
in a day, nor by the effect of a single revelation did he 
become the fully armed and all-accomplished Apostle 
of the Gentiles whom we meet in this Epistle. " After 
the space of fourteen years " it was time for him to 
stand forth the approved witness and minister of Jesus 
Christ, whom Peter and John publicly embraced as their 


Paul claims here the initiative in the momentous 
visit to Jerusalem undertaken by himself and Barnabas, 
of which he is going to speak. In Acts xv. 2 he is 
similarly placed at the head of the deputation sent from 
Antioch about the question of circumcision. The 
account of the preceding missionary tour in Acts xiii., 
xiv., shows how the headship of the Gentile Church had 
come to devolve on Paul. In Luke's narrative they 
are " Barnabas and Saul " who set out ; " Paul and 
Barnabas " who return.* Under the trials and hazards 
of this adventure — at Paphos, Pisidian Antioch, Lystra 
— Paul's native ascendancy and his higher vocation 
irresistibly declared themselves. Age and rank yielded 
to the fire of inspiration, to the gifts of speech, the 
splendid powers of leadership which the difficulties of 
this expedition revealed in Paul. Barnabas returned 
to Antioch with the thought in his heart, " He must 
increase ; I must decrease." And Barnabas was too 
generous a man not to yield cheerfully to his companion 
the precedence for which God thus marked him out. 
Yet the " sharp contention " in which the two men 
parted soon after this time (Acts xv. 36 — 40), was, we 
may conjecture, due in some degree to a lingering sore- 
ness in the mind of Barnabas on this account. 

The Apostle expresses himself with modesty, but 
in such a way as to show that he was regarded in this 
juncture as the champion of the Gentile cause. The 
" revelation " that prompted the visit came to him. 
The " taking up of Titus " was his distinct act (ver. 1). 
Unless Paul has deceived himself, he was quite the 
leading figure in the Council ; it was his doctrine and 
his Apostleship that exercised the minds of the chiefs 

• Acts xiii. 2, 7, 13, 43, 45, 46, 50 ; av. 12, 14 ; xv. 2, I a 


at Jerusalem, when the delegates from Antioch appeared 
before them. Whatever Peter and James may have 
known or surmised previously concerning Paul's voca- 
tion, it was only now that it became a public question 
for the Church. But as matters stood, it was a vital 
question. The status of uncircumcised Christians, and 
the Apostolic rank of Paul, constituted the twofold- 
problem placed before the chiefs of the Jewish Church. 
At the same time, the Apostle, while fixing our attention 
mainly on his own position, gives to Barnabas his 
meed of honour ; for he says, " I went up with Barnabas," 
— " we never yielded for an hour to the false brethren," 
— " the Pillars gave to me and Barnabas the right hand 
of fellowship, that we might go to the Gentiles." But 
it is evident that the elder Gentile missionary stood 
in the background. By the action that he takes Paul 
unmistakably declares, " I am the Apostle of the 
Gentiles ; " * and that claim is admitted by the con- 
senting voice of both branches of the Church. The 
Apostle stepped to the front at this solemn crisis, not 
for his own rank or office' sake, but at the call of God, 
in defence of the truth of the gospel and the spiritual 
freedom of mankind. 

This meeting at Jerusalem took place in 51, or it 
may be, 52 a.d. We make no doubt that it is the 
same with the Council of Acts xv. The identification 
has been controverted by several able scholars, but 
without success. The two accounts are different, but 
in no sense contradictory. In fact, as Dr. Pfleiderer 
acknowledges, f they " admirably supplement each 
other. The agreement as to the chief points is in 

* Cotnp. Rom. xi. 13 ; xv. 16, 17. 

t Hibbert Lectures, p. 103. This testimony is the more valuable a», 
coming from the ablest living exponent of the Baurian theory. 


any case greater than the discrepancies in the details ; 
and these discrepancies can for the most part be 
explained by the different standpoint of the relaters." 
A difficulty lies, however, in the fact that the historian 
of the Acts makes this the third visit of Paul to Jerusalem 
subsequently to his conversion ; whereas, from the 
Apostle's statement, it appears to have been the second. 
This discrepancy has already come up for discussion 
in the last Chapter (p. 92). Two further observations 
may be added on this point. In the first place, Paul 
does not say that he had never been to Jerusalem 
since the visit of ch. i. 18 ; he does say, that on this 
occasion he "went up again," and that meanwhile 
he "remained unknown by face" to the Christians of 
Judaea (ch. i. 22) — a fact quite compatible, as we have 
shown, with what is related in Acts xi. 29, 30. And 
further, the request addressed at this conference to the 
Gentile missionaries, that they should " remember the 
poor," and the reference made by the Apostle to his 
previous zeal in the same business (vv. 9, 10), are in 
agreement with the earlier visit of charity mentioned 
by Luke. 

I. The emphasis of ver. I rests upon its last clause, 
— taking along with me also Titus. Not " Titus as well 
as Barnabas " — this cannot be the meaning of the 
" also " — for Barnabas was Paul's colleague, deputed 
equally with himself by the Church of Antioch ; nor 
" Titus as well as others " — there were other members 
of the deputation (Acts xv. 2), but Paul makes no 
reference to them. The also (jcal) calls attention to 
the fact of Paul's taking Titus, in view of the sequel ; 
83 though he said, " 1 not only went up to Jerusalem 
at this particular time, under Divine direction, but I 
took along with me Titus besides." The prefixed with 


(aw-) of the Greek participle refers to Paul himself: 
compare ver. 3, "Titus who was with me." As for the 
" certain others " referred to in Acts xv. 2, they were 
most likely Jews ; or if any of them were Gentiles, 
still it was Titus whom Paul had chosen for his com- 
panion ; and his case stood out from the rest in such 
a way that it became the decisive one, the test-case for 
the matter in dispute. 

The mention of Titus' name in this connection was 
calculated to raise a lively interest in the minds of 
the Apostle's readers. He is introduced as known to 
the Galatians ; indeed by this time his name was 
familiar in the Pauline Churches, as that of a fellow- 
traveller and trusted helper of the Apostle. He was 
with Paul in the latter part of the third missionary 
tour — so we learn from the Corinthian letters — and 
therefore probably in the earlier part of the same 
journey, when the Apostle paid his second visit to 
Galatia. He belonged to the heathen mission, and 
was Paul's " true child after a common faith " (Tit. i. 
4), an uncircumcised man, of Gentile birth equally with 
the Galatians. And now they read of his " going up 
to Jerusalem with Paul," to the mother-city of believers, 
where are the pillars of the Church — the Jewish teachers 
would say — the true Apostles of Jesus, where His 
doctrine is preached in its purity, and where every 
Christian is circumcised and keeps the Law. Titus, 
the unclean Gentile, at Jerusalem ! How could he be 
admitted or tolerated there, in the fellowship of the first 
disciples of the Lord ? This question Paul's readers, 
after what they had heard from the Circumcisionists, 
would be sure to ask. He will answer it directly. 

But the Apostle goes on to say, that he " went up 
in accordance with a revelation." For this was one 


of those supreme moments in his life when he looked 
for and received the direct guidance of heaven. It was 
a most critical step to carry this question of Gentile 
circumcision up to Jerusalem, and to take Titus with 
him there, into the enemies' stronghold. Moreover, 
on the settlement of this matter Paul knew that his 
Apostolic status depended, so far as human recognition 
was concerned. It would be seen whether the Jewish 
Church would acknowledge the converts of the Gentile 
mission as brethren in Christ ; and whether the first 
Apostles would receive him, " the untimely one," as a 
colleague of their own. Never had he more urgently 
needed or more implicitly relied upon Divine direction 
than at this hour. 

" And I put before them (the Church at Jerusalem) 
the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles — but 
privately to those of repute : am I running (said I), 
or have I run, in vain ? " The latter clause we read 
interrogatively, along with such excellent grammatical 
interpreters as Meyer, Wieseler, and Hofmann. Paul 
had not come to Jerusalem in order to solve any doubt 
in his oivn mind; but he wished the Church of 
Jerusalem to declare its mind respecting the character 
of his ministry. He was not " running as uncertainly ; " 
nor in view of the " revelation " just given him could 
he have any fear for the result of his appeal. But 
it was in every way necessary that the appeal should 
be made. 

The interjected words, " but privately," etc., indicate 
that there were two meetings during the conference, 
such as those which seem to be distinguished in Acts 
xv. 4 and 6 ; and that the Apostle's statement and the 
question arising out of it were addressed more pointedly 
to " those of repute." By this term we understand, 


here and in ver. 6, " the apostles and elders " (Acts xv.)^ 
headed by Peter and James, amongst whom "those 
reputed to be pillars " are distinguished in ver. 9. Paul 
dwells upon the phrase 01 So/couire?, because, to be 
sure, it was so often on the lips of the Judaizers, who 
were in the habit of speaking with an imposing air, 
and by way of contrast with Paul, of " the authorities " 
(at Jerusalem) — as the designation might appropriately 
be rendered. These very men whom the Legalists 
were exalting at Paul's expense, the venerated chiefs 
of the mother Church, had on this occasion, Paul is 
going to say, given their approval to his doctrine ; they 
declined to impose circumcision on Gentile believers. 
The Twelve were not stationary at Jerusalem, and 
therefore could not form a fixed court of reference 
there; hence a greater importance accrued to the 
Elders of the city Church, with the revered James at 
their head, the brother of the Lord. 

The Apostle, in bringing Titus, had brought up the 
subject-matter of the controversy. The " gospel of the 
uncircumcision " stood before the Jewish authorities, 
an accomplished fact. Titus was there, by the side 
of Paul, a sample — and a noble specimen, we can well 
believe — of the Gentile Christendom which the Jewish 
Church must either acknowledge or repudiate. How 
will they treat him ? Will they admit this foreign 
protegd of Paul to their communion ? Or will they 
require him first to be circumcised ? The question 
at issue could not take a form more crucial for the 
prejudices of the mother Church. It was one thing 
to acknowledge uncircumcised fellow-believers in the 
abstract, away yonder at Antioch or Iconium, or even 
at Caesarea ; and another thing to see Titus standing 
amongst them in his heathen uncleanness, on the 


sacred soil of Jerusalem, under the shadow of the 
Temple, and to hear Paul claiming for him — for this 
"dog "of a Gentile— equally with himself the rights 
of Christian brotherhood 1 The demand was most 
offensive to the pride of Judaism, as no one knew 
better than Paul; and we cannot wonder that a 
revelation was required to justify the Apostle in making 
it. The case of Trophimus, whose presence with the 
Apostle at Jerusalem many years afterwards proved 
so nearly fatal (Acts xxi. 27 — 30), shows how 
exasperating to the legalist party his action in this 
instance must have been. Had not Peter and the 
better spirits of the Church in Jerusalem laid to 
heart the lesson of the vision of Joppa, that " no man 
must be called common or unclean," and had not 
the wisdom of the Holy Spirit eminently guided this 
first Council of the Church,* Paul's challenge would 
have received a negative answer; and Jewish and 
Gentile Christianity must have been driven asunder. 

The answer, the triumphant answer, to Paul's appeal 
comes in the next verse : " Nay, not even f Titus who 
was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be 
circumcised." Titus was not circumcised, in point of 
fact — how can we doubt this in view of the language 
of ver. 5 : " Not even for an hour did we yield in 
subjection ? " And he " was not compelled to be cir- 
cumcised " — a mode of putting the denial which implies 
that in refusing his circumcision urgent solicitation had 

* Acts xv. 28 : «' It seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us." 
This was in the Early Church no mere pious official form. 

t For this use of aXK' oiSi compare Acts xix. 2 (here also after a ques- 
tion) ; 1 Cor. iii. 2 ; iv. 3. We observe a similar instance of the phrase in 
iEschylus, Persa, 1. 792. 'AXV opposes itself to the expectation of the 
Judaistic " compellers," present to the mind of Paul and his readers. 


to be withstood, solicitation addressed to Titus him- 
self, as well as to the leaders of his party. The kind 
of pressure brought to bear in the case and the 
quarter from which it proceeded, the Galatians would 
understand from their own experience (ch. vi. 12 ; 
comp. ii. 14). 

The attempt made to bring about Titus' circumcision 
signally failed. Its failure was the practical reply to 
the question which Paul tells us (ver. 2) he had put 
to the authorities in Jerusalem ; or, according to the 
more common rendering of ver. 2b, it was the answer to 
the apprehension under which he addressed himself to 
them. On the former of these views of the connection, 
which we decidedly prefer, the authorities are clear of 
any share in the "compulsion" of Titus. When the 
Apostle gives the statement that his Gentile companion 
"was not compelled to be circumcised" as the reply to 
his appeal to "those of repute," it is as much as to say : 
" The chiefs at Jerusalem did not require Titus' circum- 
cision. They repudiated the attempt of certain parties 
to force this rite upon him." This testimony precisely 
accords with the terms of the rescript of the Council, 
and with the speeches of Peter and James, given in 
Acts xv. But it was a great point gained to have the 
liberality of the Jewish Christian leaders put to the 
proof in this way, to have the generous sentiments 
of speech and letter made good in this example of 
uncircumcised Christianity brought to their doors. 

To the authorities at Jerusalem the question put by 
the delegates from Antioch on the one side, and by the 
Circumcisionists on the other, was perfectly clear. If 
they insist on Titus' circumcision, they disown Paul 
and the Gentile mission : if they accept Paul's gospel, 
they must leave Titus alone. Paul and Barnabas 


stated the case in a manner that left no room for 
doubt or compromise. Their action was marked, as 
ver. 5 declares, with the utmost decision. And the 
response of the Jewish leaders was equally frank and 
definite. We have no business, says James (Acts xv. 
19), "to trouble those from the Gentiles that turn to 
God." Their judgement is virtually affirmed in ver. 3, 
in reference to Titus, in whose person the Galatians 
could not fail to see that their own case had been 
settled by anticipation. " Those of repute " disowned 
the Circumcisionists ; the demand that the yoke of 
circumcision should be imposed on the Gentiles had 
no sanction from them. If the Judaizers claimed their 
sanction, the claim was false. 

Here the Apostle pauses, as his Gentile readers 
must have paused and drawn a long breath of relief 
or of astonishment at what he has just alleged. If 
Titus was not compelled to be circumcised, even at 
Jerusalem, who, they might ask, was going to compel 
them? — The full stop should therefore be placed at 
the end of ver. 3, not ver. 2. Vv. I — 3 form a 
paragraph complete in itself. Its last sentence resolves 
the decisive question raised in this visit of Paul's to 
Jerusalem, when he " took with him also Titus." 

II. The opening words of ver. 4 have all the appear- 
ance of commencing a new sentence. This sentence, con- 
cluded in ver. 5, is grammatically incomplete; but that 
is no reason for throwing it upon the previous sentence, 
to the confusion of both. There is a transition of thought, 
marked by the introductory But,* from the issue of 
Paul's second critical visit to Jerusalem (vv. 1 — 3) to 

* This particle is a serious obstacle in the way of the ordinary 
punctuation, which attaches the following clause to ver. 3. The 8i is 
similar to that of ver. 6 (dirb St r. SoKovvrwr) ; not of tear ISiav 81 in ver. 


the cause which made it necessary. This was the action 
of " false brethren," to whom the Apostle made a 
determined and successful resistance (vv. 4, 5). The 
opening " But " does not refer to ver. 3 in particular, 
rather to the entire foregoing paragraph. The ellipsis 
(after " But ") is suitably supplied in the marginal render- 
ing of the Revisers, where we take it was to mean, not 
" Because of the false brethren Titus was not (or was 
not compelled to be) circumcised" but " Because of the 
false brethren this meeting came about, or, / took the 
course aforesaid." 

To know what Paul means by " false brethren," we 
must turn to ch. i. 6 — 9, iii. I, iv. 17, v. 7 — 12, vi. 12 — 14, 
in this Epistle ; and again to 2 Cor. ii. 17 — iii. 1, iv. 2, 
xi. 3, 4, 12 — 22, 26; Rom. xvi. 17, 18; Phil. iii. 2. 
They were men bearing the name of Christ and pro- 
fessing faith in Him, but Pharisees at heart, self-seeking, 
rancorous, unscrupulous men, bent on exploiting the 
Pauline Churches for their own advantage, and regard- 
ing Gentile converts to Christ as so many possible 
recruits for the ranks of the Circumcision. 

But where, and how, were these traitors " privily 
brought in ? " Brought in, we answer, to the field of 
the Gentile mission ; and doubtless by local Jewish 
sympathisers, who introduced them without the con- 
currence of the officers of the Church. They " came in 
privily " — slipped in by stealth — " to spy out our liberty 
which we have in Christ Jesus." Now it was at Antioch 
and in the pagan Churches that this liberty existed in 

2, nor of Si araipov (Phil. ii. 8), which are parenthetical qualifica- 
tions. And to say, " Because of the false brethren Titus was not com- 
pelled to be circumcised," is simply an inconsequence. Would he have 
been compelled to be circumcised if they had not required it ? Thi* 
is the assumption implied by the above construction. 


its normal exercise — the liberty for which our Epistle 
contends, the enjoyment of Christian privileges inde- 
pendently of Jewish law — in which Paul and his 
brother missionaries had identified themselves with 
their Gentile followers. The "false brethren" were 
Jewish spies in the Gentile Christian camp. We do not 
see how the Galatians could have read the Apostle's 
words otherwise; nor how it could have occurred to 
them that he was referring to the way in which these 
men had been originally " brought into " the Jewish 
Church. That concerned neither him nor them. But 
their getting into the Gentile fold was the serious thing. 
They are the "certain who came down from Judaea, 
and taught the (Gentile) brethren, saying, Except ye be 
circumcised after the custom of Moses, ye cannot be 
saved ; " and whom their own Church afterwards re- 
pudiated (Acts xv. 24). With Antioch for the centre of 
their operations, these mischief-makers disturbed the 
whole field of Paul and Barnabas' labours in Syria 
and Cilicia (Acts xv. 23; comp. Gal. i. 21). For the 
Galatian readers, the terms of this sentence, coming 
after the anathema of ch. i. 6 — 9, threw a startling 
light on the character of the Judean emissaries busy in 
their midst. This description of the former "troublers " 
strikes at the Judaic opposition in Galatia. It is as if 
the Apostle said : " These false brethren, smuggled in 
amongst us, to filch away our liberties in Christ, wolves 
in sheep's clothing — I know them well ; I have en- 
countered them before this. 1 never yielded to their 
demands a single inch. I carried the struggle with 
them to Jerusalem. There, in the citadel of Judaism, 
and before the assembled chiefs of the Judean Church, 
I vindicated once and for all, under the person of Titus, 
your imperilled Christian rights." 


But as the Apostle dilates on the conduct of these 
Jewish intriguers, the precursors of such an army of 
troublers, his heart takes fire ; in the rush of his emo- 
tion he is carried away from the original purport of his 
sentence, and breaks it off with a burst of indignation : 
" To whom," he cries, " not even for an hour did we yield 
by subjection, that the truth of the gospel might abide 
with you." A breakdown like this — an anacoluthon, as 
the grammarians call it — is nothing strange in Paul's 
style. Despite the shipwrecked grammar, the sense 
comes off safely enough. The clause, " we did not 
yield," etc., describes in a negative form, and with 
heightened effect, the course the Apostle had pursued 
from the first in dealing with the false brethren. In 
this unyielding spirit he had acted, without a moment's 
wavering, from the hour when, guided by the Holy 
Spirit, he set out for Jerusalem with the uncircumcised 
Titus by his side, until he heard his Gentile gospel 
vindicated by the lips of Peter and James, and received 
from them the clasp of fellowship as Christ's acknow- 
ledged Apostle to the heathen. 

It was therefore the action of Jewish interlopers, 
men of the same stamp as those infesting the Galatian 
Churches, which occasioned Paul's second, public visit 
to Jerusalem, and his consultation with the heads of the 
Judean Church. This decisive course he was himself 
inspired to take ; while at the same time it was taken 
on behalf and under the direction of the Church of 
Antioch, the metropolis of Gentile Christianity. He 
had gone up with Barnabas and " certain others " — 
including the Greek Titus chosen by himself — the 
company forming a representative deputation, of which 
Paul was the leader and spokesman. This measure was 
the boldest and the only effectual means of combatting 


the Judaistic propaganda. It drew from the authorities 
at Jerusalem the admission that " Circumcision is no- 
thing," and that Gentile Christians are free from the iitual 
law. This was a victory gained over Jewish prejudice 
of immense significance for the future of Christianity. 
The ground was already cut from under the feet of the 
Judaic teachers in Galatia, and of all who should at any 
time seek to impose external rites as things essential to 
salvation in Christ. To all his readers Paul can now 
say, so far as his part is concerned : The truth oj tht 
gospel abides with you. 



H But from those who were reputed to be somewhat (what they one* 
were, it maketh no matter to me : God accepteth not man's person) — 
they, I say, who were of repute imparted nothing to me : but contrari- 
wise, when they saw that I had been intrusted with the gospel of the 
uncircumcision, even as Peter with the gospel of the circumcision (for 
he that wrought for Peter unto the apostleship of the circumcision 
wrought for me also unto the Gentiles) ; and when they perceived the 
grace that was given unto me, James and Cephas and John, they who 
were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of 
fellowship, that we should go unto the Gentiles, and they unto the 
circumcision ; only they would that we should remember the poor; 
which very thing I was also zealous to do." — Gal. ii. 6 — IO, 

WE have dealt by anticipation, in Chapter VI., with 
several of the topics raised in this section of 
the Epistle — touching particularly the import of the 
phrase " those of repute," and the tone of disparage- 
ment in which these dignitaries appear to be spoken of 
in ver. 6. But there still remains in these verses 
matter in its weight and difficulty more than sufficient 
to occupy another Chapter. 

The grammatical connection of the first paragraph, 
like that of w. 2, 3, is involved and disputable. We 
construe its clauses in the following way : — (1) Ver. 6 
begins with a But, contrasting " those of repute " with 
the " false brethren " dealt with in the last sentence. 
It contains another mnacoluthon (or incoherence of lan- 



guage), due to the surge of feeling remarked in ver. 4, 
which still disturbs the Apostle's grammar. He begins : 
" But from those reputed to be something " — as though 
he intended to say, " I received on my part nothing, no 
addition or qualification to my gospel." But he has 
no sooner mentioned " those of repute " than he is re- 
minded of the studied attempt that was made to set up 
their authority in opposition to his own, and accordingly 
throws in this protest: "what they were aforetime,* 
makes no difference to me : man's person God doth 
not accept." But in saying this, Paul has laid down 
one of his favourite axioms, a principle that filled a 
large place in his thoughts ; t and its enunciation 
deflects the course of the main sentence, so that it is 
resumed in an altered form : " For to me those of 
repute imparted nothing." Here the me receives a 
greater emphasis ; and yor takes the place of but. The 
fact that the first Apestles had nothing to impart to 
Paul, signally illustrates the Divine impartiality, which 
often makes the last and least in human eyes equal to 
the first. 

(2) Vv. 7 — 9 state the positive, as ver. 6 the negative 
side of the relation between Paul and the elder Apostles, 
still keeping in view the principle laid down in the 
former verse. "Nay, on the contrary, when they saw 
that I have in charge the gospel of the uncircumcision, 
as Peter that of the circumcision (ver. 7) — and when 
they perceived the grace that had been given me, James 
and Cephas and John, those renowned pillars of the 
Church, gave the right hand of fellowship to myself and 

* For this rendering of iroTi corr.p. ch. i. 13, 23 ; and see Lightfoot, 
or Beet, in loc. 

t Comp. Rom. ii. 11 ; 1 Cor. i. 27—31 ; xv. 9, 10 ; Eph. vi. 9; 
Col. iii, 25. 


Barnabas, agreeing that we should go to the Gentiles, 
while they laboured amongst the Jews " (ver. 9). 

(3) Ver. 8 comes in as a parenthesis, explaining how 
the authorities at Jerusalem came to see that this trust 
belonged to Paul. " For," he says, " He that in Peter's 
case displayed His power in making him (above all 
others) Apostle of the Circumcision, did as much for 
me in regard to the Gentiles." It is not human ordina- 
tion, but Divine inspiration that makes a minister of 
Jesus Christ The noble Apostles of Jesus had the 
wisdom to see this. It had pleased God to bestow this 
grace on their old Tarsian persecutor ; and they frankly 
acknowledged the fact. 

Thus Paul sets forth, in the fiifet place, the completeness 
of his Apostolic qualifications, put to proof at the crisis of 
the circumcision controversy ; and in the second place, 
the judgement formed respecting him and his office by the 
first Apostles and companions of t! t s Lord. 

I. "To me those of repute added nothing." Paul 
had spent but a fortnight in the Christian circle of 
Jerusalem, fourteen years ago. Of its chiefs he had 
met at that time only Peter and James, and them in the 
capacity of a visitor, not as a disciple or a candidate for 
office. He had never sought the opportunity, nor felt 
the need, of receiving instruction from the elder Apostles 
during all the years in which he had preached Christ 
amongst the heathen. It was not likely he would do 
so now. When he came into conference and debate 
with them at the Council, he showed himself their equal, 
neither in knowledge nor authority " a whit behind the 
very chiefest." And they were conscious of the same fact. 

On the essentials of the gospel Paul found himself 
in agreement with the Twelve. This is implied in the 
language of ver. 6. When one writes, " A adds nothing 


to B," one assumes that B has already what belongs to 
A, and not something different. Paul asserts in the 
most positive terms he can command, that his inter- 
course with the holders of the primitive Christian 
tradition left him as a minister of Christ exactly where 
he was before. " On me," he says, " they conferred 
nothing" — rather, perhaps, " addressed no communication 
to me." The word used appears to deny their having 
made any motion of the kind. The Greek verb is the 
same that was employed in ch. i. 1 6, a rare and 
delicate compound.* Its meaning varies, like that of 
our confer, communicate, as it is applied in a more or 
less active sense. In the former place Paul had said 
that he " did not confer with flesh and blood " ; now 
he adds, that flesh and blood did not confer any- 
thing upon him. Formerly he did not bring his com- 
mission to lay it before men ; now they had nothing 
to bring on their part to lay before him. The same 
word affirms the Apostle's independence at both epochs, 
shown in the first instance by his reserve toward the 
dignitaries at Jerusalem, and in the second by their 
reserve toward him. Conscious of his Divine call, he 
sought no patronage from the elder Apostles then ; and 
they, recognising that call, offered him no such patronage 
now. Paul's gospel for the Gentiles was complete, and 
sufficient unto itself. His ministry showed no defect in 
quality or competence. There was nothing about it 
that laid it open to correction, even on the part of those 
wisest and highest in dignity amongst the personal 
followers of Jesus. 

* We cannot explain irpotraviOevTO here by the S.ve0ifi.r)v of ver. 2, 
«s though Paul wished to say, "I imparted to them my gospel ; they 
imparted to me nothing further." For rrpos- implies directum, rather 
than addition. See Meyer on this verb in ch. L 16, 


So Paul declares ; and we can readily believe him. 
Nay, we are tempted to think that it was rather the 
Pillars who might need to learn from him, than he 
from them. In doctrine, Paul holds the primacy in the 
band of the Apostles. While all were inspired by the 
Spirit of Christ, the Gentile Apostle was in many ways 
a more richly furnished man than any of the rest. The 
Paulinism of Peter's First Epistle goes to show that the 
debt was on the other side. Their earlier privileges 
and priceless store of recollections of "all that Jesus 
did and taught," were matched on Paul's side by a 
penetrating logic, a breadth and force of intellect applied 
to the facts of revelation, and a burning intensity of 
spirit, which in their combination were unique. The 
Pauline teaching, as it appears in the New Testament, 
bears in the highest degree the marks of original genius, 
the stamp of a mind whose inspiration is its own. 

Modern criticism even exaggerates Paul's originality. 
It leaves the other Apostles little more than a negative 
part to play in the development of Christian truth. In 
some of its representations, the figure of Paul appears 
to overshadow even that of the Divine Master. It 
was Paul's creative genius, it is said, his daring idealism, 
that deified the human Jesus, and transformed the 
scandal of the cross into the glory of an atonement 
reconciling the world to God. Such theories Paul 
himself would have regarded with horror. " I received 
of the Lord that which I delivered unto you : " such 
is his uniform testimony. If he owed so little as a 
minister of Christ to his brother Apostles, he felt with 
the most sincere humility that he owed everything to 
Christ. The agreement of Paul's teaching with that of 
the other New Testament writers, and especially with 
that of Jesus in the Gospels, proves that, however 


distinct and individual his conception of the common 
gospel, none the less there was a common gospel of 
Christ, and he did not speak of his own mind. The 
attempts made to get rid of this agreement by post- 
dating the New Testament documents, and by explain- 
ing away the larger utterances of Jesus found in the 
Gospels as due to Paulinist interpolation, are unavail- 
ing. They postulate a craftiness of ingenuity on the 
part of the writers of the incriminated books, and an 
ignorance in those who first received them, alike in- 
conceivable. Paul did not build up the splendid and 
imperishable fabric of his theology on some speculation 
of his own. Its foundation lies in the person and the 
teaching of Jesus Christ, and was common to Paul with 
James and Cephas and John. " Whether I or they," 
he testifies, " so we preach, and so ye believed " 
(i Cor. xv. II). Paul satisfied himself at this con- 
ference that he and the Twelve taught the same gospel. 
Not in its primary data, but in their logical develop- 
ment and application, lies the specifically Pauline in 
Paulinism. The harmony between Paul and the other 
Apostolic leaders has the peculiar value which belongs 
to the agreement of minds of different orders, working 

The Judaizers, however, persistently asserted Paul's 
dependence on the elder Apostles. " The authority of 
the Primitive Church, the Apostolic tradition of Jeru- 
salem " — this was the fulcrum of their argument. Where 
could Paul, they asked, have derived his knowledge of 
Christ, but from this fountain-head ? And the power 
that made him, could unmake him. Those who com- 
missioned him had the right to overrule him, or even 
to revoke his commission. Was it not known that he 
had from time to time resorted to Jerusalem ; that he 


had once publicly submitted his teaching to the 
examination of the heads of the Church there ? The 
words of ver. 6 contradict these malicious insinuations. 
Hence the positiveness of the Apostle's self-assertion. 
In the Corinthian Epistles his claim to independence is 
made in gentler style, and with expressions of humility 
that might have been misunderstood here. But the 
position Paul takes up is the same in either case : " I 
am an Apostle. I have seen Jesus our Lord. You — 
Corinthians, Galatians — are my work in the Lord." 
That Peter and the rest were in the old days so near 
to the Master, "makes no difference" to Paul. They 
are what they are — their high standing is universally 
acknowledged, and Paul has no need or wish to ques- 
tion it ; but, by the grace of God, he also is what he is 
(1 Cor. xv. 10). Their Apostleship does not exclude 
or derogate from his. 

The self-depreciation, the keen sense of inferiority 
in outward respects, so evident in Paul's allusions to 
this subject elsewhere, is after all not wanting nere. 
For when he says, " God regards not man's person," it 
is evident that in respect of visible qualifications Paul 
felt that he had few pretensions to make. Appear- 
ances were against him. And those who " glory in 
appearance " were against him too (2 Cor. v. 12). Such 
men could not appreciate the might of the Spirit that 
wrought in Paul, nor the sovereignty of Divine election. 
They " reckoned " of the Apostle " as though he walked 
according to flesh " (2 Cor. x. 2). It seemed to them 
obvious, as a matter of course, that he was far below 
the Twelve. With men of worldly wisdom the Apostle 
did not expect that his arguments would prevail. His 
appeal was to " the spiritual, who judge all things." 

So we come back to the declaration of the Apostle 


in ch. i. II: "I give you to know, brethren, that my 
gospel is not according to man." Man had no hand 
either in laying its foundation or putting on the head- 
stone. Paul's predecessors in Apostolic office did not 
impart the gospel to him at the outset ; nor at a later 
time had they attempted to make any addition to the 
doctrine he had taught far and wide amongst the 
heathen. His Apostleship was from first to last a 
supernatural gift of grace. 

II. Instead, therefore, of assuming to be his 
superiors, or offering to bestow something of their own 
on Paul, the three renowned pillars of the faith at Jeru- 
salem acknowledged him as a brother Apostle. 

" They saw that I am intrusted with the gospel of the 
uncircumcision." The form of the verb implies a trust 
given in the past and taking effect in the present, a 
settled fact. Once for all, this charge had devolved 
on Paul. He is " appointed herald and apostle " of 
" Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, — 
teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth" (i Tim. ii. 
6, 7). That office Paul still holds. He is the leader 
of Christian evangelism. Every new movement in 
heathen missionary enterprise looks to his teaching 
for guidance and inspiration. 

The conference at Jerusalem in itself furnished 
conclusive evidence of Paul's Apostolic commission. 
The circumcision controversy was a test not only for 
Gentile Christianity, but at the same time for its 
Apostle and champion. Paul brought to this discus- 
sion a knowledge and insight, a force of character, a 
conscious authority and unction of the Holy Spirit, that 
powerfully impressed the three great men who listened 
to him. The triumvirate at Jerusalem well knew that 
Paul had not received his marvellous gifts through 


their hands. Nor was there anything lacking to him 
which they felt themselves called upon to supply. 
They could only say, " This is the Lord's doing ; and 
it is marvellous in our eyes." Knowing, as Peter at 
least, we presume, had done for many years,* the 
history of Paul's conversion, and seeing as they now 
did the conspicuous Apostolic signs attending his 
ministry, James and Cephas and John could only come 
to one conclusion. The gospel of the uncircumcision, 
they were convinced, was committed to Paul, and his 
place in the Church was side by side with Peter. 
Peter must have felt as once before on a like occasion : 
" If God gave unto him a gift equal to that He gave to 
me, who am I, that I should be able to hinder God ? " 
(Acts xi. 17). It was not for them because of their 
elder rank and dignity to debate with God in this 
matter, and to withhold their recognition from His 
"chosen vessel." 

John had not forgotten his Master's reproof for 
banning the man that " followeth not with us " (Luke 
ix. 49; Mark ix. 38). They "recognised," Paul says, 
" the grace that had been given me ; " and by that he 
means, to be sure, the undeserved favour that raised 
him to his Apostolic office.j This recognition was 
given to Paul. Barnabas shared the " fellowship." His 
hand was clasped by the three chiefs at Jerusalem, not 
less warmly than that of his younger comrade. But 
it is in the singular number that Paul speaks of " the 
grace that was given me" and of the " trust in the 
gospel " and the " working of God unto Aposileship." 

Why then does not Paul say outright, " they acknow- 
ledged me an Apostle, the equal of Peter ? " Some are 

* Ch. L 18. See Chapter V., p. 87. 

t See Rom. i. 5; I Cor. xv. 10; Eph. iii. 2, 7, 8; I Tim. i. 13. 


bold enough to say — Holsten in particular — " Because 
this is just what the Jerusalem chiefs never did, and 
never could have done."* We will only reply, that if 
this were the case, the passage is a continued suggestio 
falsi. No one could write the words of vv. 7 — 9, with- 
out intending his readers to believe that such a recogni- 
tion took place. Paul avoids the point-blank assertion, 
with a delicacy that any man of tolerable modesty will 
understand. Even the appearance of "glorying" was 
hateful to him (2 Cor. x. 17; xi. I ; xii. 1 — 5, 11). 

The Church at Jerusalem, as we gather from vv. 
7, 8, observed in Paul " signs of the Apostle " 
resembling those borne by Peter. His Gentile com- 
mission ran parallel with Peter's Jewish commission. 
The labours of the two men were followed by the same 
kind of success, and marked by similar displays of 
miraculous power. The like seal of God was stamped 
on both. This correspondence runs through the Acts 
of the Apostles. Compare, for example, Paul's sermon 
at Antioch in Pisidia with that of Peter on the Day of 
Pentecost ; the healing of the Lystran cripple and the 
punishment of Elymas, with the case of the lame man 
at the Temple gate and the encounter of Peter and 
Simon Magus. The conjunction of the names of Peter 
and Paul was familiar to the Apostolic Church. The 
parallelism between the course of these great Apostles 
was no invention of second-century orthodoxy, set up 
in the interests of a "reconciling hypothesis;" it 
attracted public attention as early as 51 A.D., while 
they were still in their mid career. If this idea so 
strongly possessed the minds of the Jewish Christian 
leaders and influenced their action at the Council of 

* Zum Evangelien d. Paulus und d. Petrus, p. 273. Holsten is the 
keenest and most logical of all the Baurian succession 


Jerusalem, we need not be surprised that it should 
dominate Luke's narrative to the extent that it does. 
The allusions to Peter in I Corinthians * afford further 
proof that in the lifetime of the two Apostles it was a 
common thing to link their names together. 

But had not Peter also a share in the Gentile 
mission ? Does not the division of labour made at 
this conference appear to shut out the senior Apostle 
from a field to which he had the prior claim? "Ye 
know," said Peter at the Council, "how that a good 
while ago God made choice among you, that by my 
mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel, 
and believe" (Acts xv. 7). To Peter was assigned the 
double honour of " opening the door of faith " both to 
Jew and Gentile. This experience made him the readier 
to understand Paul's position, and gave him the greater 
weight in the settlement of the question at issue. And 
not Peter alone, but Philip the evangelist and other 
Jewish Christians had carried the gospel across the 
line of Judaic prejudice, before Paul appeared on the 
scene. Barnabas and Silas were both emissaries of 
Jerusalem. So that the mother Church, if she could 
not claim Paul as her son, had nevertheless a large 
stake in the heathen mission. But when Paul came to 
the front, when his miraculous call, his incomparable 
gifts and wonderful success had made themselves 
known, it was evident to every discerning mind that he 
was the man chosen by God to direct this great work. 
Peter had opened the door of faith to the heathen, and 
had bravely kept it open ; but it was for Paul to lead 
the Gentile nations through the open door, and to make 
a home for them within the fold of Christ. The men 

* Ch. i. 12; iii. 22; ix. 5. 


who had laboured in this field hitherto were Paul's fore- 
runners. And Peter does not hesitate to acknowledge 
the younger Apostle's special fitness for this wider 
province of their common work ; and with the con- 
currence of James and John he yields the charge of it 
to him. 

Let us observe that it is two different provinces, not 
different gospels, that are in view. When the Apostle 
speaks of " the gospel of the uncircumcision " as com- 
mitted to himself, and that " of the circumcision " to 
Peter, he never dreams of any one supposing, as some 
of his modern critics persist in doing, that he meant 
two different doctrines. How can that be possible, 
when he has declared those .anathema who preach any 
other gospel ? He has laid his gospel before the heads 
of the Jerusalem Church. Nothing has occurred there, 
nothing is hinted here, to suggest the existence of a 
" radical divergence." If James and the body of the 
Judean Church really sympathised with the Circum- 
cisionists, with those whom the Apostle calls " false 
brethren," how could he with any sincerity have come 
to an agreement with them, knowing that this tremen- 
dous gulf was lying all the while between the Pillars 
and himself? Zelier argues that the transaction was 
simply a pledge of "reciprocal toleration, a merely 
external concordat between Paul and the original 
Apostles." * The clasp of brotherly friendship was a 
sorry farce, if that were all it meant — if Paul and the 
Three just consented for the time to slur over irrecon- 
cilable differences ; while Paul in turn has glossed over 
the affair for us in these artful verses I Baur, with 
characteristic finesse, says on the same point : " The 

* The Acts of the Apostles critically investigated, vol. ii., pp. 28, 30 .• 

KoivavLa was always a division ; it could only be 
brought into effect by one party going eh rh eOvrj, the 
other els rrjv 7rep1.T0fj.1jv. As the Jewish Apostles could 
allege nothing against the principles on which Paul 
founded his evangelical mission, they were obliged to 
recognise them in a certain manner ; but their recogni- 
tion was a mere outward one. They left him to work 
on these principles still further in the cause of the 
gospel among the Gentiles ; but for themselves they 
did not desire to know anything more about them." * 
So that, according to the Tubingen critics, we witness in 
ver. 9 not a union, but a divorce 1 The Jewish Apostles 
recognise Paul as a brother, only in order to get rid of 
him. Can misinterpretation be more unjust than this ? 
Paul does not say, " They gave us the right hand of 
fellowship on condition that," but, " in order that we should 
go this way, they that." As much as to say : The 
two parties came together and entered into a closer 
union, so that with the best mutual understanding each 
might go its own way and pursue its proper work in 
harmony with the other. For Paul it would have been 
a sacrilege to speak of the diplomatic compromise which 
Baur and Zeller describe as " giving the right hand of 

Never did the Church more deeply realise than at 
her first Council the truth, that " there is one body 
and one Spirit ; one Lord, one faith, one baptism ; one 
God and Father of all, who is above all, and through 
all, and in all" (Eph. iv. 4 — 6). Paul still seems to feel 
his hand in the warm grasp of Peter and of John when 
he writes to the Ephesians of " the foundation of the 
Apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself for 

• Paulus, vol. i., p. 130: Eng. Trans. 


chief corner-stone ; in whom the whole building fill} 
framed together, groweth unto an holy temple in the 
Lord"(ch. ii. 20, 21). Alas for the criticism that is 
obliged to see in words like these the invention of 
second-century churchmanship, putting into the mouth 
of Paul catholic sentiments of which in reality he knew 
nothing 1 Such writers know nothing of the power of 
that fellowship of the Spirit which reigned in th<" 
glorious company of the Apostles. 

" Only they would have us remember the poor " — 1 
circumstance mentioned partly by way of reminder to 
the Galatians touching the collection for Jerusalem, 
which Paul had already set on foot amongst them 
(1 Cor. xvi. 1). The request was prompted by the 
affectionate confidence with which the Jewish chiefs 
embraced Paul and Barnabas. It awakened an eager 
response in the Apostle's breast. His love to his 
Jewish kindred made him welcome the suggestion. 
Moreover every deed of charity rendered by the 
wealthier Gentile Churches to " the poor saints in 
Jerusalem," was another tie helping to bind the two 
communities to each other. Of such liberality Antioch, 
under the direction of the Gentile missionaries, had 
already set the example (Acts xi. 29, 30). 

James, Peter, John, and Paul — it was a memorable 
day when these four men met face to face. What a 
mighty quaternion ! Amongst them they have virtually 
made the New Testament and the Christian Church. 
They represent the four sides of the one foundation of 
the City of God. Of the Evangelists, Matthew holds 
affinity with James ; Mark with Peter ; and Luke with 
Paul. James clings to the past and embodies the 
transition from Mosaism to Christianity. Peter is the 


man of the present, quick in thought and action, eager, 
buoyant, susceptible. Paul holds the future in his 
grasp, and schools the unborn nations. John gathers 
present, past, and future into one, lifting us into the 
region of eternal life and love. 

With Peter and James Paul had met before, and was 
to meet again. But so far as we can learn, this was 
the only occasion on which his path crossed that of 
John. Nor is this Apostle mentioned again in Paul's 
letters. In the Acts he appears but once or twice, 
standing silent in Peter's shadow. A holy reserve 
surrounds John's person in the earlier Apostolic history. 
His hour was not yet come. But his name ranked 
in public estimation amongst the three foremost 
of the Jewish Church ; and he exercised, doubtless, a 
powerful, though quiet, conciliatory influence in the 
settlement of the Gentile question. The personality of 
Paul excited, we may be sure, the profoundest interest 
in such a mind as that of John. He absorbed, and yet 
in a sense transcended, the Pauline theology. The 
Apocalypse, although the most Judaic book of the New 
Testament, is penetrated with the influence of Paulinism. 
The detection in it of a covert attack on the Gentile 
Apostle is simply one of the mare's nests of a super- 
subtle and suspicious criticism. John was to be the 
heir of Paul's labours at Ephesus and in Asia Minor. 
And John's long life, touching the verge of the second 
century, his catholic position, his serene and lofty spirit, 
blending in itself and resolving into a higher unity the 
tendencies of James and Peter and Paul, give us the 
best assurance that in the Apostolic age there was 
indeed " One, holy, catholic, Apostolic Church." 

Paul's fellowship with Peter and with James was 
cordial and endeared. But to hold the hand of John, 


" the disciple whom Jesus loved," was a yet higher satis- 
faction. That clasp symbolized a union between men 
most opposite in temperament and training, and brought 
to the knowledge of Christ in very different ways, but 
whose communion in Him was deep as the life eternal. 
Paul and John are the two master minds of the New 
Testament Of all men that ever lived, these two best 
understood Jesus Christ. 



"But when Cephas came to Antioch, I resisted him to the face, 
because he stood condemned. For before that certain came from 
James, he did eat with the Gentiles ; but when they came, he drew 
back and separated himself, fearing them that were of the circumcision. 
And the rest of the Jews dissembled likewise with him ; insomuch that 
even Barnabas was carried away with their dissimulation. But when 
I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the 
gospel, I said unto Cephas before them all, If thou, being a Jew, 
livest as do the Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, how compellest thou 
the Gentiles to live as do the Jews ? We beiug Jews by nature, and 
not sinners of the Gentiles, yet knowing that a man is not justified 
by works of law, but only through faith in Jesus Christ, even wc 
believed on Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ, 
and not by the works of the law : because by the works of the law 
shall no flesh be justified. But if, while we soi'^ht to be justified in 
Christ, we ourselves also were found sinners, is Christ a minister of 
sin? God forbid. For if I build up again those things which I 
destroyed, I prove myself a transgressor." — Gal. ii, n — 18. 

i" '^HE conference at Jerusalem issued in the formal 
recognition by the Primitive Church of Gentile 
Christianity, and of Paul's plenary Apostleship. And 
it brought Paul into brotherly relations with the 
three great leaders of Jewish Christianity. But this 
fellowship was not to continue undisturbed. The 
same cause was still at work which had compelled the 
Apostle to go up to Jerusalem, taking Titus with him, 



The leaven of Pharisaic legalism remained in the 
Church. Indeed, as time went on and the national 
fanaticism grew more violent, this spirit of intolerance 
became increasingly bitter and active. The address 
of James to Paul on the occasion of his last visit to the 
Holy City, shows that the Church of Jerusalem was at 
this time in a state of the most sensitive jealousy in 
regard to the Law, and that the legalistic prejudices 
always existing in it had gained a strength with which 
it was difficult to cope (Acts xxi. 17 — 25). 

But for the present the Judaizing faction had 
received a check. It does not appear that the party 
ever again insisted on circumcision as a thing essential 
to salvation for the Gentiles. The utterances of Peter 
and James at the Council, and the circular addressed 
therefrom to the Gentile Churches, rendered this 
impossible. The Legalists made a change of front; 
and adopted a subtler and seemingly more moderate 
policy. They now preached circumcision as the prero- 
gative of the Jew within the Church, and as a counsel 
of perfection for the Gentile believer in Christ (ch. iii. 3). 
To quote the rescript of Acts xv. against this altered 
form of the circumcisionist doctrine, would have been 
wide of the mark. 

It is against this newer type of Judaistic teaching 
that our Epistle is directed. Circumcision, its advocates 
argued, was a Divine ordinance that must have its 
benefit. God has given to Israel an indefeasible 
pre-eminence in His kingdom. f Law-keeping children 
of Abraham enter the new Covenant on a higher 
footing than " sinners of the Gentiles : " they are still 
the elect race, the holy nation. If the Gentiles wish 

* Rom. ii. 25 — iii. 1. 

f Rom. i. 16 ; ii. 9, 10 ; ix. 4, 5 ; xi. I, *, 

ii.n-18.] PAUL AND PETER AT ANT1QCH. 131 

to share with them, they must add to their faith 
circumcision, they must complete their imperfect 
righteousness by legal sanctity. So they might hope 
to enter on the full heritage of the sons of Abraham ; 
they would be brought into communion with the first 
Apostles and the Brother of the Lord ; they would 
be admitted to the inner circle of the kingdom of 
God. The new Legalists sought, in fact, to super- 
impose Jewish on Gentile Christianity. They no 
longer refused all share in Christ to the uncircumcised ; 
they offered them a larger share. So we construe the 
teaching which Paul had to combat in the second 
stage of his conflict with Judaism, to which his 
four major Epistles belong. And the signal for this 
renewed struggle was given by the collision with Peter 
at Antioch. 

This encounter did not, we think, take place on the 
return of Paul and Barnabas from the Council. The 
compact of Jerusalem secured to the Church a few 
years of rest from the Judaistic agitation. The 
Thessalonian Epistles, written in 52 or 53 a.d., go to 
show, not only that the Churches of Macedonia were 
free from the legalist contention, but that it did not at 
this period occupy the Apostle's mind. Judas Bar- 
sabbas and Silas — not Peter — accompanied the Gentile 
missionaries in returning to Antioch ; and Luke 
gives, in Acts xv., a tolerably full account of the cir- 
cumstances which transpired there in the interval 
before the second missionary tour, without the slightest 
hint of any visit made at this time by the Apostle 
Peter. We can scarcely believe that the circum- 
cision party had already recovered, and increased its 
influence, to the degree that it must have done when 
" even Barnabas was carried away " ; still less 


that Peter on the very morrow of the settlement at 
Jerusalem and of his fraternal communion there with 
Paul would show himself so far estranged. 

When, therefore, did " Cephas come down to 
Antioch ? " The Galatians evidently knew. The 
Judaizers had given their account of the matter, to 
Paul's disadvantage. Perhaps he had referred to it 
himself on his last visit to Galatia, when we know he 
spoke explicitly and strongly against the Circum- 
cisionists (ch. i. 9). Just before his arrival in Galatia 
on this occasion he had " spent some time " at Antioch 
(Acts xviii. 22, 23), in the interval between the second 
and third missionary journeys. Luke simply mentions 
the fact, without giving any details. This is the like- 
liest opportunity for the meeting of the two Apostles 
in the Gentile capital. M. Sabatier,* in the following 
sentences, appears to us to put the course of events in its 
true light : — " Evidently the Apostle had quitted Jeru- 
salem and undertaken his second missionary journey full 
of satisfaction at the victory he had gained, and free from 
anxiety for the future. The decisive moment of the 
crisis therefore necessarily falls between the Thes- 
salonian and Galatian Epistles. What had happened 
in the meantime ? The violent discussion with Peter 
at Antioch (Gal. ii. 11 — 21), and all that this account 
reveals to us, — the arrival of the emissaries from 
James in the pagan-Christian circle, the counter- 
mission organized by the Judaizers to rectify the 
work of Paul. A new situation suddenly presents 
itself to the eyes of the Apostle on his return from his 
second missionary journey. He is compelled to throw 
himself into the struggle, and in doing so to formulate 

* In his L'apStre Paul : esquisse (Tunc hisloire de sa pettsJe, an 
admirable work, to which the writer is under great obligation. 

ji.n-i8.] PAUL AND PETER AT ANTiOCH. 133 

in all its rigour his principle of the abolishment of the 

The " troublers " in this instance were " certain from 
James." Like the " false brethren " * who appeared at 
Antioch three years before, they came from the mother 
Church, over which James presided. The Judaizing 
teachers at Corinth had their " commendatory letters" 
(2 Cor. iii. 1), derived assuredly from the same quarter. 
In all likelihood, their confederates in Galatia brought 
similar credentials. We have already seen that the 
authority of the Primitive Church was the chief 
weapon used by Paul's adversaries. These letters of 
commendation were part of the machinery of the anti- 
Pauline agitation. How the Judaizers obtained these 
credentials, and in what precise relation they stood to 
James, we can only conjecture. Had the Apostle held 
James responsible for their action, he would not have 
spared him any more than he has done Peter. James 
held a quasi-pastoral relation to Christian Jews of the 
Dispersion. And as he addressed his Epistle to them, 
so he would be likely on occasion to send delegates 
to visit them. Perhaps the Circumcisionists found 
opportunity to pass themselves off in this character; 
or they may have abused a commission really given 
them, by interfering with Gentile communities. That 
the Judaistic emissaries in some way or other adopted 
false colours, is plainly intimated in 2 Cor. xi. 13. 
James, living always at Jerusalem, being moreover a 
man of simple character, could have little suspected 
the crafty plot which was carried forward under his 

These agents addressed themselves in the first 

* See Chapter VII. pp. 109, 11a 


instance to the Jews, as their commission from Jeru- 
salem probably entitled them to do. They plead for 
the maintenance of the sacred customs. They insist 
that the Mosaic rites carry with them an indelible 
sanctity ; that their observance constitutes a Church 
within the Church. If this separation is once esta- 
blished, and the Jewish believers in Christ can be 
induced to hold themselves aloof and to maintain the 
" advantage of circumcision," the rest will be easy. 
The way will then be open to "compel the Gentiles to 
Judaize." For unless they do this, they must be content 
to remain on a lower level, in a comparatively menial 
position, resembling that of uncircumcised proselytes in 
the Synagogue. The circular of the Jerusalem Council 
may have been interpreted by the Judaists in this 
sense, as though it laid down the terms, not of full 
communion between Jew and Gentile believers, but 
only of a permissive, secondary recognition. At Antioch 
the new campaign of the Legalists was opened, and 
apparently with signal success. In Galatia and Corinth 
we see it in full progress. 

The withdrawal of Peter and the other Jews at 
Antioch from the table of the Gentiles virtually 
" compelled " the latter " to Judaize." Not that the 
Jewish Apostle had this intention in his mind. He 
was made the tool of designing men. By " separating 
himself" he virtually said to every uncircumcised 
brother, "Stand by thyself, I am holier than thou." 
Legal conformity on the part of the Gentiles was made 
the condition of their communion with Jewish Christians 
— a demand simply fatal to Christianity. It re- 
established the principle of salvation by works in a 
more invidious form. To supplement the righteousness 
of faith by that of law, meant to supplant it. To admit 


that the Israelite by virtue of his legal observances 
stood in a higher position than "sinners of the Gentiles," 
was to stultify the doctrine of the cross, to make Christ's 
death a gratuitous sacrifice. Peter's error, pushed to 
its logical consequences, involved the overthrow of 
the Gospel. This the Gentile Apostle saw at a glance. 
The situation was one of imminent danger. Paul 
needed all his wisdom, and all his courage and prompti- 
tude to meet it. 

It had been Peter's previous rule, since the vision of 
Joppa, to lay aside Jewish scruples of diet and to live 
in free intercourse with Gentile brethren. He "was 
wont to eat with the Gentiles. Though a born Jew, 
he lived in Gentile fashion " — words unmistakably 
describing Peter's general habit in such circumstances. 
This Gentile conformity of Peter was a fact of no 
small moment for the Galatian readers. It contravenes 
the assertion of a radical divergence between Petrine 
and Pauline Christianity, whether made by Ebionites 
or Baurians. 

The Jewish Apostle's present conduct was an act 
of " dissimulation." He was belying his known con- 
victions, publicly expressed and acted on for years. 
Paul's challenge assumes that his fellow-Apostle is 
acting insincerely. And this assumption is explained 
by the account furnished in the Acts of the Apostles 
respecting Peter's earlier relations with Gentile 
Christianity (ch. x. 1 — xi. 18; xv. 6 — 11). The 
strength of Paul's case lay in the conscience of Peter 
himself. The conflict at Antioch, so often appealed 
to in proof of the rooted opposition between the two 
Apostles, in reality gives evidence to the contrary 
effect. Here the maxim strictly applies, Exceptio probat 


Peter's lapse is quite intelligible. No man who 
figures in the New Testament is better known to us. 
Honest, impulsive, ready of speech, full of contagious 
enthusiasm, brave as a lion, firm as a rock against open 
enemies, he possessed in a high degree the qualities 
which mark out a leader of men. He was of the stuff 
of which Christ makes His missionary heroes. But 
there was a strain of weakness in Peter's nature. He 
was pliable. He was too much at the mercy of sur- 
roundings. His denial of Jesus set this native fault 
in a light terribly vivid and humiliating. It was an act 
of "dissimulation." In his soul there was a fervent 
love to Christ. His zeal had brought him to the place 
of danger. But for the moment he was alone. Public 
opinion was all against him. A panic fear seized his brave 
heart. He forgot himself; he denied the Master whom 
he loved more than life. His courage had failed; never 
his faith. "Turned back again " from his coward flight, 
Peter had indeed "strengthened his brethren" (Luke 
xxii. 31, 32). He proved a tower of strength to the 
infant Church, worthy of his cognomen of the rock. 
For more than twenty years he had stood unshaken. 
No name was so honoured in the Church as Peter's. 
For Paul to be compared to him was the highest 
possible distinction. 

And yet, after all this lapse of time, and in the midst 
of so glorious a career, the old, miserable weakness 
betrays him once more. How admonitory is the lesson 1 
The sore long since healed over, the infirmity of nature 
out of which we seemed to have been completely trained, 
may yet break out again, to our shame and undoing. 
Had Peter for a moment forgotten the sorrowful warn- 
ing of Gethsemane ? Be it ours to " watch and pray, 
lest we enter into temptation." 

ii. 11-18.) PAUL AND PETER AT ANTIOCH. 137 

We have reason to believe that, if Peter rashly erred, 
he freely acknowledged his error, and honoured his 
reprover. Both the Epistles that bear his name, in 
different ways, testify to the high value which their 
author set upon the teaching of " our beloved brother 
Paul." Tradition places the two men at Rome side by 
side in their last days ; as though even in their death 
these glorious Apostles should not be divided, despite 
the attempts of faction and mistrust to separate them. 

Few incidents exhibit more strongly than this the 
grievous consequences that may ensue from a seemingly 
trivial moral error. It looked a little thing that Peter 
should prefer to take his meals away from Gentile 
company. And yet, as Paul tells him, his withdrawal 
was a virtual rejection of the Gospel, and imperilled 
the most vital interests of Christianity. By this act 
the Jewish Apostle gave a handle to the adversaries 
of the Church which they have used for generations 
and for ages afterwards. The, dispute which it occa- 
sioned could never be forgotten. In the second century 
it still drew down on Paul the bitter reproaches of the 
Judaizing faction. And in our own day the rationalistic 
critics have been able to turn it to marvellous account. 
It supplies the corner-stone of their "scientific recon- 
struction" of Biblical theology. The entire theory of 
Baur is evolved out of Peter's blunder. Let it be 
granted that Peter in yielding to the " certain from 
James " followed his genuine convictions and the tra- 
dition of Jewish Christianity, and we see at once how 
deep a gulf lay between Paul and the Primitive Church. 
AH that Paul argues in the subsequent discussion only 
tends, in this case, to make the breach more visible. 
This false step of Peter is the thing that chiefly 
lends a colour to the theory in question, with all the 


far-reaching consequences touching the origin and 
import of Christianity, which it involves. So long 
" the evil that men do lives after them " 1 

Paul's rebuke of his brother Apostle extends to the 
conclusion of the chapter. Some interpreters cut it 
short at the end of ver. 14; others at ver. 16; others 
again at ver. 18. But the address is consecutive and 
germane to the occasion throughout. Paul does not, 
to be sure, give a verbatim report, but the substance of 
what he said, and in a form suited to his readers. The 
narrative is an admirable prelude to the argument of 
chap. iii. It forms the transition from the historical 
to the polemical part of the Epistle, from the Apostle's 
personal to his doctrinal apology. The condensed 
form of the speech makes its interpretation difficult and 
much contested. We shall in the remainder of this 
Chapter trace the general course of Paul's reproof, pro- 
posing in the following Chapter to deal more fully with 
its doctrinal contents. 

I. In the first place, Paul taxes the Jewish Apostle 
with insincerity and unfaithfulness toward the gospel. 
" I saw," he says, " that they were not holding a straight 
course, according to the truth of the gospel." 

It is a moral, not a doctrinal aberration, that Paul 
lays at the door of Cephas and Barnabas. They did not 
hold a different creed from himself; they were disloyal 
to the common creed. They swerved from the path of 
rectitude in which they had walked hitherto. They 
had regard no longer to " the truth of the gospel " — 
the supreme consideration of the servant of Christ — 
but to the favour of men, to the public opinion of 
Jerusalem. "What will be said of us there?" they 
whispered to each other, " if these messengers of James 
report that we are discarding the sacred customs, and 

:i. n-i8.] PAUL AND PETER AT ANTIOCH. 139 

making no difference between Jew and Gentile ? We 
shall alienate our Judean brethren. We shall bring a 
scandal on the Christian cause in the eyes of Judaism." 

This withdrawal of the Jews from the common fellow- 
ship at Antioch was a public matter. It was an injury 
to the whole Gentile-Christian community. If the 
reproof was to be salutary, it must be equally public 
and explicit. The offence was notorious. Every one 
deplored it, except those who shared it, or profited by 
it. Cephas "stood condemned." And yet his influ- 
ence and the reverence felt toward him were so great, 
that no one dared to put this condemnation into words. 
His sanction was of itself enough to give to this 
sudden recrudescence of Jewish bigotry the force of 
authoritative usage. " The truth of the gospel " was 
again in jeopardy. Once more Paul's intervention 
foiled the attempts of the Judaizers and saved Gentile 
liberties. And this time he stood quite alone. Even 
the faithful Barnabas deserted him. But what mattered 
that, if Christ and truth were on his side ? Amicus 
Cephas, amicus Barnabas; sed magis amicus Veritas. 
Solitary amid the circle of opposing or dissembling 
Jews, Paul " withstood " the chief of the Apostles of 
Jesus " to the face." He rebuked him " before them 

II. Peter's conduct is reproved by Paul in the light 
0/ their common knowledge of salvation in Christ. 

Paul is not content with pointing out the inconsis- 
tency of his brother Apostle. He must probe the 
matter to the bottom. He will bring Peter's delinquency 
to the touchstone of the Gospel, in its fundamental 
principles. So he passes in ver. 15 from the outward 
to the inward, from the circumstances of Peter's con- 
duct to the inner world of spiritual consciousness, in 


which his offence finds its deeper condemnation. 
" You and I," he goes on to say, " not Gentile sinners, 
but men of Jewish birth — yet for all that, knowing 
that there is no justification for man in works of law, 
only* through faith in Christ — we too put our faith in 
Christ, in order to be justified by faith in Him, not by 
works of law ; for as Scripture taught us, in that way 
no flesh will be justified." 

Paul makes no doubt that the Jewish Apostle's 
experience of salvation corresponded with his own. 
Doubtless, in their previous intercourse, and especially 
when he first "made acquaintance with Cephas" (ch. i. 
1 8) in Jerusalem, the hearts of the two men had been 
opened to each other; and they had found that, although 
brought to the knowledge of the truth in different ways, 
yet in the essence of the matter — in respect of the 
personal conviction of sin, in the yielding up of self- 
righteousness and native pride, in the abandonment of 
every prop and trust but Jesus Christ — their history 
had run the same course, and face answered to face. 
Yes, Paul knew that he had an ally in the heart of 
his friend. He was not fighting as one that beateth 
the air, not making a rhetorical flourish, or a parade 
of some favourite doctrine of his own ; he appealed 
from Peter dissembling to Peter faithful and consistent. 
Peter's dissimulation was a return to the Judaic ground 
of legal righteousness. By refusing to eat with un- 
circumcised men, he affirmed implicitly that, though 
believers in Christ, they were still to him "common and 
unclean," that the Mosaic rites imparted a higher 
sanctity than the righteousness of faith. Now the 

• Hlw /*■)) has the same partially exceptive force as tl pi) in ch. i. y, 
19. Comp. Rom. ziv. 14 ; also Luke iv. 26, 27. 


principles of evangelical and legal righteousness, of 
salvation by faith and by law-works, are diametrically 
opposed. It is logically impossible to maintain both. 
Peter had long ago accepted the former doctrine. He 
had sought salvation, just like any Gentile sinner, on 
the common ground of human guilt, and with a faith 
that renounced every consideration of Jewish privilege 
and legal performance. By what right can any Hebrew 
believer in Christ, after this, set himself above his 
Gentile brother, or presume to be by virtue of his 
circumcision and ritual law-keeping a holier man ? 
Such we take to be the import of Paul's challenge 
in w. 15, 16. 

III. Paul is met at this point by the stock objection 
to the doctrine of salvation by faith — an objection 
brought forward in the dispute at Antioch not, we 
should imagine, by Peter himself, but by the Judaistic 
advocates. To renounce, legal righteousness was in effect, 
they urged, to promote sin — nay, to make Christ Himself 
a minister of sin (ver. 17). 

Paul retorts the charge on those who make it. They 
promote sin, he declares, who set up legal righteousness 
again (ver. 18). The objection is stated and met in the 
form of question and answer, as in Rom. iii. 5- We 
have in this sharp thrust and parry an example of the 
sort of fence which Paul must often have carried on 
in his discussions with Jewish opponents on these 

We must not overlook the close verbal connection 
of these verses with the two last. The phrase " seek- 
ing to be justified in Christ" carries us back to the time 
when the two Apostles, self-condemned sinners, 
severally sought and found a new ground of righteous- 
ness in Him. Now when Peter and Paul did this, 


they were " themselves also found * to be sinners," — 
an experience how abasing to their Jewish pride 1 
They made the great discovery that stripped them of 
legal merit, and brought them down in their own esteem 
to the level of common sinners. Peter's confession may 
stand for both, when he said, abashed by the glory of 
Christ, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O 
Lord." Now this style of penitence, this profound 
self-abasement in the presence of Jesus Christ, revolted 
the Jewish moralist. To Pharisaic sentiment it was 
contemptible. If justification by faith requires this, 
if it brings the Jew to so abject a posture and makes 
no difference between lawless and law-keeping, be- 
tween pious children of Abraham and heathen outcasts 
— if this be the doctrine of Christ, all moral distinctions 
are confounded, and Christ is " a minister of sin ! " 
This teaching robs the Jew of the righteousness he 
before possessed ; it takes from him the benefit and 
honour that God bestowed upon his race 1 So, we 
doubt not, many a Jew was heard angrily exclaiming 
against the Pauline doctrine, both at Antioch and else- 
where. This conclusion was, in the view of the 
Legalist, A reductio ad absurdum of Paulinism. 

The Apostle repels this inference with the indignant 
fir) ryevotro, Far be it I His reply is indicated by the 
very form in which he puts the question : " If we were 
found sinners " (Christ did not make us such). " The 
complaint was this," as Calvin finely says : " Has 
Christ therefore come -to take away from us the right- 
eousness of the Law, to make us polluted who were 
holy ? Nay, Paul says ; — he repels the blasphemy with 

* For this emphatic found, describing a process of moral conviction 
and inward discovery, comp. Rom. vii. io, 18, 21 ; the whole passage 
•trikingly illustrate* the reminiscence of our text 


detestation. For Christ did not introduce sin, but 
revealed it. He did not rob them of righteousness, 
but of the false show thereof." * The reproach of the 
Judaizers was in reality the same that is urged against 
evangelical doctrine still — that it is immoral, placing 
the virtuous and vicious in the common category of 
" sinners." 

Ver. 18 throws back the charge of promoting sin 
upon the Legalist. It is the counterpart, not of ver. 19, 
but rather of ver. 17. The " transgressor" is the sinner 
in a heightened and more specific sense, one who 
bieaks known and admitted law. t This word bears, 
in Paul's vocabulary, a precise and strongly marked 
signification which is not satisfied by the common in- 
terpretation. It is not that Peter in setting up the 
Law which he had in principle overthrown, puts him- 
self in the wrong; nor that Peter in re-establishing the 
Law, contradicts the purpose of the Law itself (Chry- 
sostom, Lightfoot, Beet). This is to anticipate the 
next verse. In Paul's view and according to the 
experience common to Peter with himself, law and 
transgression are concomitant, every man " under law" 
is ipso facto a transgressor. He who sets up the first, 
constitutes himself the second. And this is what Peter 
is now doing ; although Paul courteously veils the 
fact by putting it hypothetically, in the first person. % 
After dissolving, so far as in him lay, the validity of 
legal righteousness and breaking down the edifice of 
justification by works, Peter is now building it up 

* Commcntarii, in loc. 

t See Grimm's Lexicon, or Trench's N, T. Synonyms, on this word. 
Comp. ch. iii. 19 ; Rom. ii. 23—27 ; iv. 15 ; v. 14. 

t The / of this sentence is quite indefinite. On the other baud 
•er. 19, with its emphatic iy&iyAp, brings us into a new vein of thought 


again, and thereby constructing a prison-house for 
himself. Returning to legal allegiance, he returns to 
legal condemnation;* with his own hands he puts on 
his neck the burden of the Law's curse, which through 
faith in Christ he had cast off. By this act of timid 
conformity he seeks to commend himself to Jewish 
opinion ; but it only serves, in the light of the Gospel, 
to "prove him a transgressor," to " commend"! him 
in that unhappy character. This is Paul's retort to the 
imputation of the Judaist. It carries the war into the 
enemies' camp. " No," says Paul, "Christ is no patron 
of sin, in bidding men renounce legal righteousness. 
But those promote sin — in themselves first of all — who 
after knowing His righteousness, turn back again to 

IV. The conviction of Peter is now complete. From 
the sad bondage to which the Jewish Apostle, by his 
compliance with the Judaizers, was preparing to sub- 
mit himself, the Apostle turns to his own joyous sense oj 
deliverance (vv. 19 — 21). Those who resort to legalism, 
he has said, ensure their own condemnation. It is, 
on the other hand, by an entire surrender to Christ, by 
realizing the import of His death, that we learn to 
" live unto God." So Paul had proved it. At this 
moment he is conscious of a union with the crucified 
and living Saviour, which lifts him above the curse of 
the law, above the power of sin. To revert to the 
Judaistic state, to dream any more of earning righteous- 
ness by legal conformity, is a thing for him incon- 
ceivable. It would be to make void the cross of 
Christ 1 

And it was the Law itself that first impelled Paul 

* Comp. ch. iii. 10 — 12, 19 ; Rom. iii. 20 ; iv. 15. 
f This verb has, as Schott suggests, a tinge of irony. 

ii. 1 1-18.] PAUL AND PETER AT ANTIOCH. 145 

along this path. "Through law" he "died to law." 
The Law drove him from itself to seek salvation in 
Jesus Christ. Its accusations allowed him no shelter, 
left him no secure spot on which to build the edifice of 
his self-righteousness. It said to him unceasingly, 
Thou art a transgressor.* He who seeks justification 
by its means contradicts the Law, while he frustrates 
the grace of God. 

Rom. tH. 7— vitt. I. 



44 For I through law died unto law, that I might live unto God. I 
have been crucified with Christ ; and it is no longer I that live, but 
Christ liveth in me : and that life which I now live in the flesh I live 
in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me, and 
gave Himself up for me. I do not make void the grace of God: 
for if righteousness is through law, then Christ died for nonght" — 
Gal. ii. 19 — 21. 

PAUL'S personal apology is ended. He has proved 
his Apostolic independence, and made good his 
declaration, " My Gospel is not according to man." If 
he owed his commission to any man, it was to Peter ; 
so his traducers persistently alleged. He has shown 
that, first without Peter, then in equality with Peter, and 
finally in spite of Peter, he had received and maintained 
it. Similarly in regard to James and the Jerusalem 
Church. Without their mediation Paul commenced his 
work ; when that work was challenged, they could only 
approve it ; and when afterwards men professing to act 
in their name disturbed his work, the Apostle had 
repelled them. He acted all along under the conscious- 
ness of a trust in the gospel committed to him directly 
by Jesus Christ, and an authority in its administration 
second to none upon earth. And events had justified 
this wrtfidence. 

ii. 19-21.] THE PRINCIPLES AT STAKE. 147 

Paul is compelled to say all this about himself. The 
vindication of his ministry is forced from him by the 
calumnies of false brethren. From the time of the 
conference at Jerusalem, and still more since he with- 
stood Peter at Antioch, he had been a mark for the 
hatred of the Judaizing faction. He was the chief 
obstacle to their success. Twice he had foiled them, 
when they counted upon victory. They had now set 
on foot a systematic agitation against him, with its 
head-quarters at Jerusalem, carried on under some pre- 
text of sanction from the authorities of the Church there. 
At Corinth and in Galatia the legalist emissaries had 
appeared simultaneously ; they pursued in the main the 
same policy, adapting it to the character and disposition 
of the two Churches, and appealing with no little suc- 
cess to the Jewish predilections common even amongst 
Gentile believers in Christ. 

In this controversy Paul and the gospel he preached 
were bound together. "I am set," he says, "for the 
defence of the gospel" (Ph. i. 16). He was the cham- 
pion of the cross, the impersonation of the principle of 
salvation by faith. It is " the gospel of Christ," the 
" truth of the gospel," he reiterates, that is at stake. 
If he wards oft* blows falling upon him, it is because 
they are aimed through him at the truth for which he 
lives — nay, at Christ who lives in him. In his self- 
assertion there is no note of pride or personal anxiety. 
Never was there a man more completely lost in the 
greatness of a great cause, nor who felt himself in com- 
parison with it more worthless. But that cause has 
lifted Paul with it to imperishable glory. Of all names 
named on earth, none stands nearer than his to that 
which is " above every name." 

While Paul in ch. i. and ii. is busy with his own 

H8 the epistle to the galatians. 

vindication, he is meantime behind the personal defence 
preparing the doctrinal argument. His address to Peter 
is an incisive outline of the gospel of grace. The three 
closing verses — the Xptara arvvearavpcofiai in par- 
ticular — are the heart of Paul's theology — summa ac 
medulla Christianismi (Bengel). Such a testimony was 
the Apostle's best defence before his audience at 
Antioch ; it was the surest means of touching the heart 
of Peter and convincing him of his error. And its re- 
cital was admirably calculated to enlighten the Galatians 
as to the true bearing of this dispute which had been 
so much misrepresented. From ver. 15 onwards, Paul 
has been all the while addressing, under the person 
of Peter, the conscience of his readers,* and paving the 
way for the assault that he makes upon them with so 
much vigour in the first verses of ch. iii. Read in 
the light of the foregoing narrative, this passage is a 
compendium of the Pauline Gospel, invested with the 
peculiar interest that belongs to a confession of personal 
faith, made at a signal crisis in the author's life. Let 
us examine this momentous declaration. 

I. At the foundation of Paul's theology lies his 
conception of the grace of God. 

Grace is the Apostle's watchword. The word occurs 
twice as often in his Epistles as it does in the rest of 
the New Testament. Outside the Pauline Luke and 
Hebrews, and 1 Peter with its large infusion of Paulin- 
ism, it is exceedingly rare.f In this word the character, 
spirit, and aim of the revelation of Christ, as Paul 

* Hofmann is so far right when he the Apostle turn to the 
Galatians in ch. ii. 15, and draws at this point the line between the 
historical and doctrinal sections of the Epistle. 

f What is said of x<W> applies also to its derivatives, x a fi^°t ia *' 

tf. 19-21.] THE PRINCIPLES AT STAKE. 149 

understood it, aie summed up. "The grace of God" 
is the touchstone to which Peter's dissimulation is 
finally brought. Christ is the embodiment of Divine 
grace — above all, in His death. So that it is one and 
the same thing to " bring to nought the grace of God," 
and " the death of Christ." Hence God's grace is called 
"the grace of Christ," — "of our Lord Jesus Christ." 
From Romans to Titus and Philemon, "grace reigns" 
in every Epistle. No one can counterfeit this mark of 
Paul, or speak of grace in his style and accent. 

God's grace is not His love alone ; it is redeeming 
love — love poured out upon the undeserving, love 
coming to seek and save the lost, " bringing salvation 
to all men" (Rom. v. 1 — 8; Tit. ii. 11). Grace decreed 
redemption, made the sacrifice, proclaims the recon- 
ciliation, provides and bestows the new sonship of the 
Spirit, and schools its children into all the habits of 
godliness and virtue that beseem their regenerate life, 
which it brings finally to its consummation in the life 

Grace in God is therefore the antithesis ot sin in 
man, counterworking and finally triumphing over it. 
Grace belongs to the last Adam as eminently as sin to 
the first. The later thoughts of the Apostle on this 
theme are expressed in Tit. iii. 4 — 7, a passage singu- 
larly rich in its description of the working of Divine 
grace on human nature. " We were senseless," he 
says, " disobedient, wandering in error, in bondage to 
lusts and pleasures of many kinds, living in envy and 
malice, hateful, hating each other. But when the kind- 
ness and love to man of our Saviour God shone forth," — 
then all was changed : " not by works wrought in our 

* Eph. i. 5 — 9; 2 Tim. i. 9 ; Rom. iii. 24 ; Heb. ii. 9 ; 2 Cor. v. 20— 
»i. 1 ; GaL iv. 5 ; Tit. iii. 5 — 7 ; ii. n— 14 ; Rom. v. 21. 


own righteousness, but according to His mercy He 
saved us, through the washing of regeneration and re- 
newing of the Holy Spirit, that, justified by His grace, 
we might be made heirs in hope of life eternal." The 
vision of the grace of God drives stubbornness, lust, and 
hatred from the soul. It brings about, for man and 
for society, the palingenesia, the new birth of Creation, 
rolling back the tide of evil and restoring the golden 
age of peace and innocence ; and crowns the joy of a 
renovated earth with the glories of a recovered heaven. 
Being the antagonist of sin, grace comes of necessity 
into contrast with the law. Law is intrinsically the 
opposer of sin ; sin is " lawlessness," with Paul as 
much as with John.* But law was powerless to cope 
with sin : it was " weak through the flesh." Instead 
of crushing sin, the interposition of law served to 
inflame and stimulate it, to bring into play its latent 
energy, reducing the man most loyally disposed to 
moral despair. " By the law therefore is the knowledge 
of sin ; it worketh out wrath." Inevitably, it makes 
men transgressors ; it brings upon them an inward 
condemnation, a crushing sense of the Divine anger 
and hostility.! That is all that law can do by itself. 
" Holy and just and good," notwithstanding, to our 
perverse nature it becomes death (Rom. vii. 13; I Cor. 
xv. 56). It is actually " the strength of sin," lending 
itself to extend and confirm its power. We find in it 
a " law of sin and death." So that to be " under law " 
and " under grace " are two opposite and mutually ex- 
clusive states. In the latter condition only is sin " no 
longer our lord" (Rom. vi. 14). Peter and the Jews 
of Antioch therefore, in building up the legal principle 

• Rom. vii. 12, 14 ; 2 Thess. ii. 4—8 ; comp. 1 John iii. 4. 

t Rom. iii. 20 ; iv. 15 ; v. 20; vii. 5, 24 ; Gal. ii. 16 iii. 10, II, 19, 


again, were in truth " abolishing the grace of God." If 
the Galatians follow their example, Paul warns them that 
they will " fall from grace." Accepting circumcision, 
they become "debtors to perform the whole law," — and 
that means transgression and the curse (ch. v. 1 — 4; 
iii. 10 — 12; ii. 16 — 18). 

While sin is the reply which man's nature makes to 
the demands of law, faith is the response elicited by 
grace; it is the door of the heart opening to grace.* 
Grace and Faith go hand in hand, as Law and Trans- 
gression. Limiting the domain of faith, Peter virtually 
denied the sovereignty of grace. He belied his con- 
fession made at the Council of Jerusalem : " By the grace 
of the Lord Jesus we trust to be saved, even as the 
Gentiles" (Acts xv. 11). With Law are joined such 
terms as Works, Debt, Reward, Glorying, proper to a 
" righteousness of one's own."f With Grace we asso- 
ciate Gift, Promise, Predestination, Call, Election, Adop- 
tion, Inheritance, belonging to the dialect of " the right- 
eousness which is of God by faith." J Grace operates 
in the region of " the Spirit," making for freedom ; but 
law, however spiritual in origin, has come to seek its 
accomplishment in the sphere of the flesh, where it 
" gendereth to bondage " (ch. iv. 23 — v. 5 ; 2 Cor. iii. 

6, 17). 

Grace appears, however, in another class of passages 
in Paul's Epistles, of which ch. i. 15, ii. 9 are 
examples. To the Divine grace Paul ascribes his 
personal salvation and Apostolic call. The revelation 
which made him a Christian and an Apostle, was above 

* Rom. iii. 24, 25 ; Eph. ii. 8 ; etc 
t Rom iv. 1 — 4 ; xi. 6 ; Gal ii. 16 ; iii. 12. 

J Rom. it. 16; viii. 28—39; xi. 5; Eph. L 4—6; Tit ilL ft 
Acts xx. 32 ; Gal. iii. 18 : Si (rayyeXiat K£x&P iaral * 6e6*. 


all things a manifestation of grace. Wearing this 
aspect, "the glory of God" appeared to him "in the 
face of Jesus Christ." The splendour that blinded and 
overwhelmed Saul on his way to Damascus, was "the 
glory of His grace." The voice of Jesus that fell on 
the persecutor's ear spoke in the accents of grace. No 
scourge of the Law, no thunders of Sinai, could have 
smitten down the proud Pharisee, and beaten or 
scorched out of him his strong self-will, like the com- 
plaint of Jesus. All the circumstances tended to stamp 
upon his soul, fused into penitence in that hour, the in- 
effaceable impression of " the grace of God and of our 
Saviour Jesus Christ." Such confessions as those of 
I Cor. xv. 8 — io, and Eph. ii. 7, iii. 7, 8, show how con- 
stantly this remembrance was present with the Apostle 
Paul and suffused his views of revelation, giving to his 
ministry its peculiar tenderness of humility and ardour 
of gratitude. This sentiment of boundless obligation 
to the grace of God, with its pervasive effect upon the 
Pauline doctrine, is strikingly expressed in the doxology 
of I Tim. i. II — 17, — words which it is almost a 
sacrilege to put into the mouth of a falsarius : "Accord- 
ing to the gospel of the glory of the blessed God, 
wherewith / was intrusted, . . . who was aforetime a 
blasphemer and persecutor. . . But the grace of our 
Lord abounded even more exceedingly. Faithful is 
the saying, worthy to be received of all, ' Christ Jesus 
came into the world to save sinners ' — of whom / am 
chief. ... In me as chief Christ Jesus showed forth 
all His long-suffering. . . Now to the King of the 
ages be honour and glory for ever. Amen." Who, 
reading the Apostle's story, does not echo that Amen ? 
No wonder that Paul became the Apostle of grace; even 
as John, " the disciple whom Jesus loved," must per* 

ii, 19.21.] THE PRINCIPLES AT STAKE. 153 

force be the Apostle of love. First to him was God's 
grace revealed in its largest affluence, that through him 
it might be known to all men and to all ages. 

II. Side by side with the grace of God, we find in 
ver. 21 the death of Christ. He sets aside the former, 
the Apostle argues, who by admitting legal righteous- 
ness nullifies the latter. 

While grace embodies Paul's fundamental conception 
of the Divine character, the death of Christ is the 
fundamental fact in which that character manifests 
itself. So the cross becomes the centre of Paul's 
theology. But it was, in the first place, the basis of 
his personal life. " Faith in the Son of God, who 
loved me and gave Himself up for me," is the founda- 
tion of " the life he now lives in the flesh." 

Here lay the stumbling-block of Judaism. Theocratic 
pride, Pharisaic tradition, could not, as we say, get 
over it. A crucified Messiah 1 How revolting the bare 
idea. But when, as in Paul's case, Judaistic pride did 
surmount this huge scandal and in spite of the offence 
of the cross arrive at faith in Jesus, it was at the cost 
of a severe fall. It was broken in pieces, — destroyed 
once and for ever. With the elder Apostles the change 
had been more gradual ; they were never steeped in 
Judaism as Saul was. For him to accept the faith of 
Jesus was a revolution the most complete and drastic 
possible. As a Judaist, the preaching of the cross 
was an outrage on his faith and his Messianic hopes ; 
now it was that which most of all subdued and 
entranced him. Its power was extreme, whether to 
attract or repel. The more he had loathed and mocked 
at it before, the more he is bound henceforth to exalt 
the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. A proof of the 
Divine anger against the Nazarene he had once deemed 


it ; now he sees in it the token of God's grace in Him 
to the whole world. 

For Paul therefore the death of Christ imported the 
end of Judaism. " I died to law," he writes, — " I am 
crucified with Christ." Once understanding what this 
death meant, and realising his own relation to it, of 
every account it was impossible to go back to Legalism 
The cross barred all return. The law that put Hir , 
the sinless One, to death, could give no life to sinfil 
men. The Judaism that pronounced His doom, doomed 
itself. Who would make peace with it over '.he 
Saviour's blood ? From the moment that Paul knew 
the truth about the death of Jesus, he had done with 
Judaism for ever. Henceforth he knew nothing — 
cherished no belief or sentiment, acknowledged no 
maxim, no tradition, which did not conform itself to 
His death. The world to which he had belonged 
died, self-slain, when it slew Him. From Christ's 
grave a new world was rising, for which alone Paul 

But why should the grace of God take expression in 
a fact so appalling as Christ's death? What has 
death to do with grace ? It is the legal pendty of sin. 
The conjunction of sin and death pervades the teaching 
of Scripture, and is a principle fixed in the conscience 
of mankind. Death, as man knows it, is the inevitable 
consequence and the universal witness of his trans- 
gression. He "carries about in his mortality the 
testimony that God is angry with the wicked every 
day " (Augustine). The death of Jesus Christ cannot 
be taken out of this category. He died a sinner's 
death. He bore the penalty of guilt. The prophetic 
antecedents of Calvary, the train of circumstances 
connected with it, His own explanations in chief — are 

ii i9-iij THE FRINC1PLES AT STAKE. 155 

all in keeping with this purpose. With amazement we 
behold the Sinless '' made sin," the Just dying for the 
unjust. He was " born of a woman, born under law " : 
under law He lived — and died. Grace is no law-breaker. 
God must above all things be "just Himself," if He 
is to justify others (Rom. iii. 26). The death of Jesus 
declares it That sublime sacrifice is, as one might 
say, the resultant of grace and law. Grace "gives 
Him up for us all ; " it meets the law's claims in Him, 
even to the extreme penalty, that from us the penalty 
may be lifted off. He puts Himself under law, in order 
" to buy out those under law " (ch. iv. 4, 5). In virtue 
of the death of Christ, therefore, men are dealt with on 
an extra-legal footing, on terms of grace ; not because 
law is ignored or has broken down ; but because it is 
satisfied beforehand. God has " set forth Christ Jesus 
a propitiation " ; and in view of that accomplished fact, 
He proceeds "in the present time" to "justify him 
who is of faith in Jesus " (Rom. iii. 22 — 26). Legalism 
is at an end, for the Law has spent itself on our 
Redeemer. For those that are in Him " there is now 
no condemnation." This is to anticipate the fuller 
teaching of ch. iii. ; but the vicarious sacrifice is already 
implied when Paul says, " He gave Himself up for me 
— gave Himself for our sins " (ch. i. 4). 

The resurrection of Christ is, in Paul's thought, the 
other side of His death. They constitute one event, 
the obverse and reverse of the same reality. For Paul, 
as for the first Apostles, the resurrection of Jesus gave 
to His death an aspect wholly different from that it 
previously wore. But the transformation wrought in 
their minds during the "forty days," in his case came 
about in a single moment, and began from a different 
starting-point Instead of being the merited punish- 


ment of a blasphemer and false Messiah, the death of 
Calvary became the glorious self-sacrifice of the Son 
of God. The dying and rising of Jesus were blended 
in the Apostle's mind ; he always sees the one in the 
light of the other. The faith that saves, as he formu- 
lates it, is at once a faith that Christ died for our sins, 
and that God raised Him from the dead on the third 
day.* Whichever of the two one may first apprehend, 
it brings the other along with it. The resurrection is 
not an express topic of this Epistle. Nevertheless it 
meets us in its first sentence, where we discern that 
Paul's knowledge of the gospel and his call to pro- 
claim it, rested upon this fact. In the passage before 
us the resurrection is manifestly assumed. If the 
Apostle is "crucified with Christ," — and yet "Christ 
lives in him," it is not simply the teaching, or the 
mission of Jesus that lives over again in Paul ; the life 
of the risen Saviour has itself entered into his soul. 

III. This brings us to the thought of the union of the 
believer with Christ in death and life, which is expressed 
in terms of peculiar emphasis and distinctness in 
ver. 20. " With Christ I have been crucified ; and 
/ live no longer ; it is Christ that lives in me. My 
earthly life is governed by faith in Him who loved 
me and died for me." Christ and Paul are one. When 
Christ died, Paul's former self died with Him. Now 
it is the Spirit of Christ in heaven that lives within 
Paul's body here on earth. 

This union is first of all a communion with the dying 
Saviour. Paul does not think of the sacrifice of Calvary 
as something merely accomplished for him, outside 
himself, by a legal arrangement in which one person 

• I Cor. xt. 3, 4, 1 1 ; Rom. iv. 24, 25 ; i. 9 ; 1 Thess. Iv. 14. 

ii. 19-21.] THE PRINCIPLES AT STAKE. 157 

takes the place of another and, as it were, personates 
him. The nexus between Christ and Paul is deeper 
than this. Christ is the centre and soul of the race, 
holding towards it a spiritual primacy of which Adam's 
natural headship was a type, mediating between men 
and God in all the relations which mankind holds to 
God.* The death of Jesus was more than substitu- 
tionary ; it was representative. He had ever}' right 
to act for us. He was the " One " who alone could 
« die for all ; " in Him " all died " (2 Cor. v. 14, 1 5). He 
carried us with Him to the cross ; His death was in 
effect the death of those who sins He bore. There 
was no legal fiction here ; no federal compact extem- 
porised for the occasion. " The second Man from 
heaven," if second in order of time, was first and 
fundamental in the spiritual order, the organic Head 
of mankind, " the root," as well as " the offspring " of 
humanity.t The judgement that fell upon the race was 
a summons to Him who held in His hands its interests 
and destinies. Paul's faith apprehends and endorses 
what Christ has done on his behalf, — " who loved me," 
he cries, " and gave Himself up for me." When the 
Apostle says, " I have been crucified with Christ," he 
goes back in thought to the scene of Calvary; there, 
potentially, all that was done of which he now realises 
in himself the issue. His present salvation is, so to 
speak, a rehearsal of the Saviour's death, a "like- 
ness" (Rom. vi. 5) of the supreme act of atonement, 
which took place once for all when Christ died for 
our sins. 

Faith is the link between the past, objective sacrifice, 
and the present, subjective apprehension of it, by which 

* Rom. v. 14 ;.I Cor. xv. 22, 45—48 ; I Tim. ii. 5. 

t I Cor. xv. 45— 49 ; comp. Col. i. 15—17 ; John i. 4, 9, 15, 16. 


its virtue becomes our own. Without such faith, Christ 
would have " died in vain." His death must then have 
been a great sacrifice thrown away. Wilful unbelief 
repudiates what the Redeemer has done, provisionally, 
on our behalf. This repudiation, as individuals, we are 
perfectly free to make. "The objective reconciliation 
effected in Christ's death can after all benefit actually, 
in their own personal consciousness, only those who 
know and acknowledge it, and feel themselves in their 
solidarity with Christ to be so much one with Him 
as to be able to appropriate inwardly His death and 
celestial life, and to live over again His life and death ; 
those only, in a word, who truly believe in Christ. Thus 
the idea of substitution in Paul receives its complement 
and realisation in the mysticism of his conception of 
faith. While Christ objectively represents the whole 
race, that relation becomes a subjective reality only 
in the case of those who connect themselves with Him 
in faith in such a way as to fuse together with Him 
into one spirit and one body, as to find in Him their 
Head, their soul, their life and self, and He in them 
His body, His members and His temple. Thereby the 
idea of ' one for all ' receives the stricter meaning of 
'all in and with one.' "* 

Partaking the death of Christ, Paul has come to 
share in His risen life. On the cross he owned his 
Saviour— owned His wounds, His shame, His agony 
of death, and felt himself therein shamed, wounded, 
slain to death. Thus joined to his Redeemer, as by 
the nails that fastened Him to the tree, Paul is carried 

* Pfleiderer, Hibbert Lectures, pp. 65, 6. Dr. Pfleiderer's delicate and 
sympathetic interpretation of Paul's teaching (in these Lectures, and 
still more in his Paulmism) has made all students of the Apostle hij 
debtors, however much they may quarrel with bis historical criticism. 

il 19-21.] THE PRINCIPLES AT STAKE. 159 

with Him down into the grave — into the grave, and 
out again ! Christ is risen from the dead : so therefore 
is Paul. He " died to sin once," and now " liveth to 
God; death lords it over Him no more:" this Paul 
reckons equally true for himself (Rom. vi. 3 — 11). The 
Ego, the " old man " that Paul once was, lies buried in 
the grave of Jesus. 

Jesus Christ alone, "the Lord of the Spirit" has 
risen from that sepulchre, — has risen in the spirit of 
Paul. " If any one should come to Paul's doors and 
ask, Who lives here ? he would answer, Not Saul of 
Tarsus, but Jesus Christ lives in this body of mine." 
In this appropriation of the death and rising of the 
Lord Jesus, this interpenetration of the spirit of Paul 
and that of Christ, there are three stages corresponding 
to the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of Eastertide. 
" Christ died for our sins ; He was buried ; He rose 
again the third day : " so, by consequence, " I am 
crucified with Christ; no longer do I live; Christ 
liveth in me." 

This mystic union oi the soul and its Saviour bears 
fruit in the activities of outward life. Faith is no mere 
abstract and contemplative affection ; but a working 
energy, dominating and directing all our human facul- 
ties. It makes even the flesh its instrument, which 
defied the law of God, and betrayed the man to the 
bondage of sin and death. There is a note of triumph 
in the words, — " the life I now live in the flesh, I live in 
faith 1" The impossible has been accomplished. "The 
body of death " is possessed by the Spirit of life in 
Christ Jesus (Rom. vi. 12; vii. 23 — viii. 1). The 
flesh — the despair of the law — has become the sancti- 
fied vessel of grace. 

Paul's entire theology of Redemption is contained 


in this mystery of union with Christ. The office of 
the Holy Spirit, whose communion holds together the 
glorified Lord and His members upon earth, is implied 
in the teaching of ver. 20. This is manifest, when in 
ch. iii. 2 — 5 we find the believer's union with Christ 
described as " receiving the Spirit, beginning in the 
Spirit ; " and when a little later " the promise of the 
Spirit " embraces the essential blessings of the new 
life.* The doctrine of the Church is also here. For 
those in whom Christ dwells have therein a common 
life, which knows no "Jew and Greek; all are cne 
man " in Him.t Justification and sanctification alike 
are here ; the former being the realisation of our share 
in Christ's propitiation for sin, the latter our participa- 
tion in His risen life, spent "to God." Finally, the 
resurrection to eternal life and the heavenly glory of 
the saints spring from their present fellowship with the 
Redeemer. " The Spirit that raised Jesus from the 
dead, dwelling in us, shall raise our mortal body " to 
share with the perfected spirit His celestial life. The 
resurrection of Christ is the earnest of that which all 
His members will attain, — nay, the material creation 
is to participate in the glory of the sons of God, made 
like to Him, the " firstborn of many brethren " (Rom. 
viii. ii, 16—23, 2 9» 30; Phil. iii. 20, 21). 

In all these vital truths Paul's gospel was traversed by 
the Legalism countenanced by Peter at Antioch. The 
Judaistic doctrine struck directly, if not avowedly, at the 
cross, whose reproach its promoters sought to escape. 
This charge is the climax of the Apostle's contention 
against Peter, and the starting-point of his expostula- 

* Ch. iii. 14 ; iv. 6, 7 ; v. 5 ; 1 Cor, vi. 17, 19 ; Rom. viii. 9 — 16. 
t Ch. iii. 28 ; Col. iii. 1 1 ; Rom. xv. 5 — J. 

ii 19-21.] THE PRINCIPLES AT STAKE. 161 

tion with the Galatians in the following chapter. " If 
righteousness could be obtained by way of law, then 
Christ died for nought 1 " What could one say worse 
of any doctrine or policy, than that it led to this ? And 
if works of law actually justify men, and circumcision 
is allowed to make a difference between Jew and Greek 
before God, the principle of legalism is admitted, and the 
intolerable consequence ensues which Paul denounces. 
What did Christ die for, if men are able to redeem 
themselves after this fashion ? How can any one dare 
to build up in face of the cross his paltry edifice of 
self-wrought goodness, and say by doing so that the 
expiation of Calvary was superfluous and that Jesus 
Christ might have spared Himself all that trouble I 

And so, on the one hand, Legalism impugns 
the grace of God. It puts human relations to God 
on the footing of a debtor and creditor account ; 
it claims for man a ground for boasting in himself 
(Rom. iv. I — 4), and takes from God the glory of His 
grace. In its devotion to statute and ordinance, it 
misses the soul of obedience — the love of God, only to 
be awakened by the knowledge of His love to us (ch. v. 
14; I John iv. 7 — II). It sacrifices the Father in God 
to the King. It forgets that trust is the first duty of 
a rational creature toward his Maker, that the law of 
faith lies at the basis of all law for man. 

On the other hand, and by the same necessity, 
Legalism is fatal to the spiritual life in man. Whilst it 
clouds the Divine character, it dwarfs and petrifies the 
human. What becomes of the sublime mystery of the 
life hid with Christ in God, if its existence is made 
contingent on circumcision and ritual performance ? 
To men who put "meat and drink" on a level with 
"righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost," 



or in their intercourse with fellow-Christians set points 
of ceremony above justice, mercy, and faith, the very idea 
of a spiritual kingdom of God is wanting. The religion 
of Jesus and of Paul regenerates the heart, and from 
that centre regulates and hallows the whole ongoing of 
life. Legalism guards the mouth, the hands, the senses, 
and imagines that through these it can drill the man 
into the Divine order. The latter theory makes religion 
a mechanical system; the former conceives it as an 
inward, organic life. 

Chap, iii i— v. 18. 



** O foolish Galatians, who did bewitch you, before whose eyes Jesua 
Christ was openly set forth crucified ? This only would I learn fronv 
you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing 
of faith ? Are ye so foolish ? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now 
perfected in the flesh ? Did ye suffer so many things in vain ? if it be 
indeed in vain. He therefore that supplieth to you the Spirit, and 
worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or 
by the hearing of faith? " — Gal. UL i — 5. 

AT the beginning of ch. iii. falls the most marked 
division of this Epistle. So far, since the ex- 
ordium, its course has been strictly narrative. The 
Apostle has been " giving " his readers " to know " 
many things concerning himself and his relations to 
the Judean Church of which they had been ignorant or 
misinformed. Now this preliminary task is over. From 
explanation and defence he passes suddenly to the 
attack. He turns sharply round upon the Galatians, 
and begins to ply them with expostulation and argu- 
ment. It is for their sake that Paul has been telling 
this story of his past career. In the light of the 
narration just concluded, they will be able to see their 
folly and to understand how much they have been 

Here also the indignation so powerfully expressed 
in the Introduction, breaks forth again, directed this 


time, however, against the Galatians themselves and 
breathing grief more than anger. And just as after 
that former outburst the letter settled down into the 
sober flow of narrative, so from these words of reproach 
Paul passes on to the measured course of argument 
which he pursues through the next two chapters. In 
ch. iv. 8 — 20, and again in ch. v. I — 12, doctrine 
gives way to appeal and warning. But these para- 
graphs still belong to the polemical division of the 
Epistle, extending from this point to the middle of 
ch. v. This section forms the central and principal 
part of the letter, and is complete in itself. Its last 
words, in ch. v. 6 — 12, will bring us round to the 
position from which we are now setting out. 

This chapter stands, nevertheless, in close connection 
of thought with the foregoing. The Apostle's doctrine 
is grounded in historical fact and personal experience. 
The theological argument has behind it the weight 
of his proved Apostleship. The Judaistic dispute at 
Antioch, in particular, bears immediately on the subject- 
matter of the third chapter. Peter's vacillation had its 
counterpart in the defection of the Galatians. The 
reproof and refutation which the elder Apostle brought 
upon himself, Paul's readers must have felt, touched 
them very nearly. In the crafty intriguers who made 
mischief at Antioch, they could see the image of the 
Judaists who had come into their midst. Above all, 
it was the cross which Cephas had dishonoured, whose 
efficacy he had virtually denied. His act of dissimula- 
tion, pushed to its issue, nullified the death of Christ. 
This is the gravamen of Paul's impeachment. And 
it is the foundation of all his complaints against the 
Galatians. Round this centre the conflict is waged. 
By its tendency to enhance or diminish the glory of 


the Saviour's cross, Paul judges of the truth of every 
teaching, the worth of every policy. Angel or Apostle, 
it matters not — whoever disparages the cross of Jesus 
Christ finds in Paul an unflinching enemy. The 
thought of Christ " dying in vain " rouses in him the 
strong emotion under which he indites the first verses 
of this chapter. What greater folly, what stranger 
bewitchment can there be, than for one who has seen 
" Jesus Christ crucified " to turn away to some other 
spectacle, to seek elsewhere a more potent and diviner 
charm I " O senseless Galatians 1 " 

I. Here then was the beginning of their folly. The 
Galatians forgot their Saviour's cross. 

This was the first step in their backsliding. Had 
their eyes continued to be fixed on Calvary, the Legalists 
would have argued and cajoled in vain. Let the cross 
of Christ once lose its spell for us, let its influence fail 
to hold and rule the soul, and we are at the mercy of 
every wind of doctrine. We are like sailors in a dark 
night on a perilous coast, who have lost sight of the 
lighthouse beacon. Our Christianity will go to pieces. 
If Christ crucified should cease to be its sovereign 
attraction, from that moment the Church is doomed. 

This forgetfulness of the cross on the part of the 
Galatians is the more astonishing to Paul, because at 
first they had so vividly realised its power, and the 
scene of Calvary, as Paul depicted it,* had taken hold 
of their nature with extraordinary force. He was con- 
scious at the time — so his words seem to intimate — 

* The verb irpoeypd^ij (openly set forth) probably means painted up 
rather than placarded. This more vivid meaning belongs to ypwpia, 
and there is no sufficient reason why it should not attach to rpo-ypa</>u. 
It is entirely in place here. "Jesus Christ crucified " is not an announce- 
ment to be made, but an object to be delineated. 


that it was given him, amongst this susceptible people, 
to draw the picture with unwonted effect. The gaze 
of his hearers was rivetted upon the sight. It was as 
if the Lord Jesus hung there before their eyes. They 
beheld the Divine sufferer. They heard His cries of 
distress and of triumph. They felt the load which 
crushed Him. Nor was it their sympathies alone and 
their reverence, to which the spectacle appealed. It 
stirred their conscience to its depths. It awakened 
feelings of inward humiliation and contrition, of horror 
at the curse of sin, of anguish under the bitterness and 
blackness of its death. "It was you," Paul would say — 
" you and I, for whom He died. Our sins laid on Him 
that ignominy, those agonies of body and of spirit. 
He died the Just for the unjust, that He might bring 
us to God." They looked, they listened, till their 
hearts were broken, till all their sins cried out against 
them ; and in a passion of repentance they cast them- 
selves before the Crucified, and took Him for their 
Christ and King. From the foot of the cross they 
rose new men, with heaven's light upon their brow, 
with the cry Abba, Father rising from their lips, with 
the Spirit of God and of Jesus Christ, the consciousness 
of a Divine sonship, filling their breast. 

Has all this passed away ? Have the Galatians for- 
gotten the shame, the glory of that hour — the tears 
of penitence, the cries of joy and gratitude which the 
vision of the cross drew from their souls, the new 
creation it had wrought within them, the ardour of spirit 
and high resolve with which they pledged themselves 
to Christ's service ? Was the influence of -that trans- 
forming experience to prove no more enduring than 
the morning cloud and early dew ? Foolish Galatians 1 
Had they not the wit to see that the teaching of the 

iii. I-5-J THE GALAT1AN FOLLY. 169 

Legalists ran counter to all they had then experienced, 
that it " made the death of Christ of none effect," which 
had so mighty and saving an effect upon themselves ? 
Were they "so senseless," so bereft of reason and 
recollection? The Apostle is amazed. He cannot 
understand how impressions so powerful should prove 
so transient, and that truths thus clearly perceived and 
realised should come to be forgotten. Some fatal spell 
has been cast over them. They are " bewitched " to 
act as they are doing. A deadly fascination, like that 
of the " evil eye," has paralyzed their minds. 

The ancient belief alluded to in the word the Apostle 
uses here,* is not altogether a superstition. The 
malignity that darts out in the glance of the " evil eye " 
is a presage of mischief. Not without reason does it 
cause a shudder. It is the sign of a demonic jealousy 
and hate. " Satan has entered into " the soul which 
emits it, as once into Judas. Behind the spite of the 
Jewish false brethren Paul recognised a preternatural 
malice and cunning, like that with which " the Serpent 
beguiled Eve." f To this darker source of the fascina- 
tion his question, " Who hath bewitched you ? " 
appears to point. 

II. Losing sight of the cross of Christ, the Galatians 
were furthermore rejecting the Holy Spirit of God. 

This heavy reproach the Apostles urges upon his 

* On f3a.aKa.lvw see the note in Lightfoot's Commentary in loc. ; also 
Grimm's N. T. Lexicon. " The Scripture calleth envy an 'evil eye ; ' . . . 
so there still seemeth to be acknowledged in the act of envy an ejacula- 
tion or irradiation of the eye. Envy hath in it something of witchcraft. 

. . It is the proper attribute of the Devil, who is called ' The envious 
man, that soweth tares among the wheat by night.' " — (Lord Bacon : 
Essay be.) 

t Comp. 2 Cor. xL 1 — 4, a passage closely parallel to this contest, 
containing what is expressed here and in Gal. L 6, 7 » iv< "i '7> 18. 


readers through the rest of the paragraph, pausing only 
for a moment in ver. 4 to recall their earlier sufferings 
for Christ's sake in further witness against them. 
"I have but one question to put to you," he says — 
u You received the Spirit : how did that come about ? 
Was it through what you did according to law? or 
what you heard in faith ? You know well that this 
great blessing was given to your faith. Can you 
expect to retain this gift of God on other terms than 
those on which you received it ? Have you begun 
with the Spirit to be brought to perfection by the 
flesh ? (ver. 3). . . . Nay, God still bestows on you His 
Spirit, with gifts of miraculous energy; and I ask 
again, whether these displays attend on the practice of 
.aw-works, or upon faith's hearing ? " (ver. 5). 

The Apostle wished the Galatians to test the com- 
peting doctrines by their effects. The Spirit of God 
had put His seal on the Apostle's teaching, and on 
the faith of his hearers. Did any such manifestation 
accompany the preaching of the Legalist ? That is all 
he wants to know. His cause must stand or fall by 
" the demonstration of the Spirit." By " signs and 
wonders," and diverse gifts of the Holy Spirit, God 
was wont to " bear witness with " the ministers and 
witnesses of Jesus Christ (Heb. li. 3, 4 ; 1 Cor. xii. 
4 — 11) : was this testimony on the side of Paul, or the 
Circumcisionists ? Did it sustain the gospel of the grace 
of God, or the " other gospel " of Legalism ? 

" He, the Spirit of truth, shall testify of Me," Christ 
had said; and so John, at the end of the Apostolic age: 
" It is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the 
Spirit is truth." When the Galatians accepted the 
message of the cross proclaimed by Paul's lips, " the 
Holy Spirit fell" on them, as on the Jewish Church at 

Hi.i-5-] THE GALA T1AN FOLLY. 171 

the Pentecost, and the Gentile believers in the house 
of Cornelius (Acts x. 44) ; " the love of God was poured 
out in their hearts through the Holy Ghost that was 
given them " (Rom v. 5). As a mighty, rushing wind 
this supernatural influence swept through their souls. 
Like fire from heaven it kindled in their spirit, con- 
suming their lusts and vanities, and fusing their nature 
into a new, holy passion of love to Christ and to God 
the Father. It broke from their lips in ecstatic cries, 
unknown to human speech ; or moved them to unutter- 
able groans and pangs of intercession (Rom. viii. 26). 

There were men in the Galatian Churches on whom 
the baptism of the Spirit conferred besides miraculous 
charismata, superhuman powers of insight and of heal- 
ing. These gifts God continued to " minister amongst " 
them (God is unquestionably the agent in ver. 5). Paul 
asks them to observe on what conditions, and to whom, 
thuse extraordinary gifts are distributed. For the " re- 
ceiving of the Spirit" was an infallible sign of true 
Christian faith. This was the very proof which in the 
first instance had convinced Peter and the Judean 
Church that it was God's will to save the Gentiles, 
independently of the Mosaic law (Acts xi. 15 — 18). 

Receiving the Spirit, the Galatian believers knew 
that they were the sons of God. " God sent forth the 
Spirit of His Son into their hearts, crying, Abba, Father" 
(ch. iv. 6, 7). When Paul speaks of " receiving the 
Spirit," it is this that he thinks of most of all. The 
miraculous phenomena attending His visitations were 
facts of vast importance ; and their occurrence is one 
of the historical certainties of the Apostolic age. They 
were "signs," conspicuous, impressive, indispensable 
at the time — monuments set up for all time. But they 
were in their nature variable and temporary. There 


are powers greater and more enduring than these. 
The things that " abide " are " faith, hope, love ; " love 
chiefest of the three. Hence when the Apostle in a 
later chapter enumerates the qualities that go to make 
up " the fruit of the Spirit," he says nothing of tongues 
or prophecies, or gifts of healing; he begins with love. 
Wonder-working powers had their times and seasons, 
their peculiar organs ; but every believer in Christ — 
whether Jew or Greek, primitive or mediaeval or modern 
Christian, the heir of sixty generations of faith or the 
latest convert from heathenism — joins in the testimony, 
" The love of God is shed abroad in our heart by 
the Holy Ghost given unto us." This mark of Gods 
indwelling Spirit the Galatians had possessed. They 
were " sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus " 
(ch. iii. 26). And with the filial title they had re- 
ceived the filial nature. They were " taught of God to 
love one another." Being sons of God in Christ, they 
were also "heirs" (ch. iv. 7; Rom viii. 17). They 
possessed the earnest of the heavenly inheritance 
(Eph. i. 14), the pledge of their bodily redemption 
(Rom. viii. 10 — 23), and of eternal life in the fellowship 
of Christ. In their initial experience of " the salvation 
which is in Jesus Christ " they had the foretaste of its 
" eternal glory," of the " grace " belonging to " them that 
love our Lord Jesus Christ," which is " in incorruption." * 
No legal condition was laid down at this beginning 
of their Christian life ; no " work " of any kind inter- 
posed between the belief of the heart and the conscious 
reception of the new life in Christ. Even their baptism, 
significant and memorable as it was, had not been 
required as in itself a precondition of salvation. Some- 

* 3 Tim. ii. 1